The San Jose Sharks have signed Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton each to three-year extensions, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. LeBrun says Marleau’s deal carries a cap hit of $6.6M and Thornton’s carries a cap hit of $6.75M. With these extensions, two of the three biggest offseason quandaries for the Sharks have been answered, leaving only Dan Boyle’s expiring contract in question.
Both of these deals are no-brainers. Joe Thornton, 34, is having another incredible season as a Shark. In 51 games, his 53 points (6 goals and a league-leading 47 assists) put him at sixth in the league. He’s averaging just over a point a game, and he’s been the anchor on a top line that has been absolutely dominant for several years.
Marleau, also 34, isn’t topping any categories, but he’s the model of consistency. His 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) make him one of the Sharks’ most valuable forwards, and the second line has needed him desperately without the services of Logan Couture, Martin Havlat, Raffi Torres and Tomas Hertl.
San Jose now has its key group of talent under contract for the next several years. Joe Pavelski signed a 5-year contract extension in July. Logan Couture signed an identical 5-year contract extension in June. Brent Burns is under contract with San Jose until the end of the 2016-17 season. Now Thornton and Marleau will be Sharks until at least 2017 as well.
With all of the above players carrying cap hits of between five and seven million, the engine that drives San Jose’s top three forward lines is being fueled at a reasonable price. Now Doug Wilson’s decision to go heavy on defense in the 2013 draft makes more sense. Boyle’s contract is expiring at the end of the season, and as I pointed out last night, he hasn’t looked like himself all season. The big question was if the Sharks would be capable of signing all three to extensions, even with the salary cap likely rising at the close of this season. Now the question is, will Wilson be willing to re-sign Boyle?