Which Sharks are on the “Endangered Species” List?

Patrick Marleau (LW, C) (49% chance of returning)

He may have a “full” no movement clause, but there is a good chance the Sharks look to move their longest tenured player. Not only did Marleau finish the regular season with a mere 64 points (his fewest since the infamous 2007-08 campaign) but come playoffs he was nowhere to be found.

In the five game series loss to the Blues, the career long Shark had zero points and just nine shots on goal.

When you throw in his abysmal performance against the Red Wings during the 2011 Western Conference semis and Marleau has now been entirely ineffective in two of the last four postseason series.

The 32-year-old has always been a streaky scorer, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of a presence. For $6.9 million dollars the Sharks need more. Marleau wasn’t even half as effective as Joe Thornton was in the series with St. Louis and that simply isn’t acceptable.

Now being “snake-bit” in a playoff series can happen to the best of scorers but the game’s best find a way to make an impact regardless of offensive production. Thornton can still do that. Marleau on the other hand, either can’t do it anymore or is disinterested in doing it.

Whichever the case may be, one would have to think the Sharks are serious about ending the Marleau era. And doing so may not be as hard as many seem to think.

Last offseason the Sharks found a loop hole in Dany Heatley’s no-trade language. At the time, the clause in his contract wasn’t public knowledge.

So while it may seem to some like Marleau is a sure-bet to return (no-movement clause, wife is from San Jose), that isn’t necessarily the case.

The Sharks fan base is getting rather restless. Maybe not the masses of fans—Marleau was voted the “fan favorite” for the second straight year this past season—but the die-hards on the local chat boards are far from happy.

With the Sharks organization raising ticket prices again this offseason, some fans have told me they may not renew their season seats for the upcoming season. Many others are losing faith in the organization remaining a top contender. A big change in the roster (trading Marleau) would certainly bring back some buzz and sell some jerseys (Ryan Suter perhaps?).

Of the core skaters: Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Pavelski, Vlasic, Burns, and Boyle, the obvious choice to be moved is Marleau. He is the odd man out in terms of recent struggles and he’s been around so long that the San Jose front office has to wonder at this point is he part of the problem or part of the solution?

The three time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist remains a top-six quality forward, but he may in fact end up playing elsewhere come next season.

Colin White (D) (40% chance of returning)

The former New Jersey Devil made his way to San Jose this last offseason as free agent, signing a one-year, $1 million dollar deal. The veteran stay at home blue-liner chipped in his best efforts of the season down the stretch, but for most of the year he was largely ineffective. Many in the media openly wondered why fellow blue-liner Jim Vandermeer didn’t see more action during the middle portion of the campaign when White was struggling.

That said, while most experts will probably argue that White is a long shot to return to the Sharks, his experience and leadership is invaluable. When you consider that the two-time Stanley Cup winner is not in line for a raise in years nor dollars, why wouldn’t the Sharks consider bringing him back? He played his best games of the season late in the year, which makes one inclined to believe he still has gas left in the tank.

Another one year contract between $750K and $1 million would make sense to provide exactly what he did this past season: depth on the blue-line. And by and large, the way he finished this past season might suggest increased overall performance in year two with San Jose after getting accustomed to the Western Conference, the Sharks system/style and his new teammates this past season.

Torrey Mitchell (C, RW) (35% chance of returning)

Torrey Mitchell endeared himself to the hearts and minds of Sharks fans when he burst onto the scene as a rookie during the 2007-08 season. He may have scored just 20 points during his rookie year but he was a ball of energy all over the ice along with being a fixture on what was a solid penalty killing unit that season. Unfortunately for Mitchell and the Sharks, a freak injury during training camp the following season derailed his sophomore campaign. Mitchell missed his entire second season and hasn’t been the same player since.

While he has shown flashes of his former self in recent years, that speed, forechecking ability, and defensive prowess just isn’t quite there anymore.

And in that type of bottom-six role, even 90% effectiveness simply isn’t good enough. Mitchell’s contract is up this offseason and it seems unlikely that the Sharks will bring him back with players like T. J. Galiardi and Tommy Wingels more than likely taking up that roster space.

Jim Vandermeer (D, LW) (10% chance of returning)

As mentioned earlier, Vandermeer appeared to be a better option on the blue-line than White during the middle part of the season. However for whatever reason Sharks head coach Todd McLellan preferred White’s abilities–specifically on the penalty kill.

Unlike White, Vandermeer didn’t dress in a single game as a defenseman after early February. Given his rare use as a defender and ineffectiveness as a forward, it seems highly unlikely that he will return.

Dominic Moore (C) (0% chance of returning)

Of all the Sharks players from a year ago, Moore is the one sure bet not to return. While San Jose gave up a second round pick for the veteran center, what they received in return was hardly worth the price. Moore was arguably the worst skater that suited up for the Sharks down the stretch and into the playoffs. A playoff stud the year prior with Tampa Bay (11 points in 18 games), Moore was a healthy scratch  for the Sharks in games four and five against St. Louis.

Overall Moore registered zero goals, just six assists and was a minus-nine in 26 combined regular season and playoff games for the Sharks. An unrestricted free agent, it is extremely doubtful the Sharks will retain his services.

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