The Sharks have revealed who they’ve protected in tomorrow’s expansion draft — here’s who they won’t be protecting.
The Seattle Kraken will submit its list of draft selections (one player from each team) on Wednesday. The roster will be announced on Wednesday evening (5 p.m. PT) as part of a 2021 NHL Expansion Draft special on ESPN 2, SN, SN NOW.
That means as of Wednesday, one San Jose Sharks player will be changing his uniform. Whether you think it’s due to smart management by general manager Doug Wilson or simply proof of the team’s lack of depth, pickings are slim for the Kraken.
Here’s a look at who’s available:
Ryan Donato, Forward
The 25-year-old Donato played 50 games for the Sharks last season. He registered 20 points (6 goals, 14 assists) and ended the season at a minus-11. Career-wise, he’s played 180 NHL games where he scored 77 points (35 goals, 42 assists).
Donato started the season strong with the Sharks, logging some power play minutes, but his point production tapered off as the season wore on. By April, it was pretty apparent that Donato was not going to be back.
He’s currently a pending restricted free agent and the Sharks have not made moves to re-sign him. Until Wednesday morning, the Kraken have the opportunity to negotiate with Donato and sign him to a contract. If they do, Donato will count as the Kraken’s draft selection from the Sharks. If they select him anyway, he will not count toward the 20-player minimum of players under contract in 2021-22 that the Kraken must select.
Kurtis Gabriel, Forward
The 28-year-old Gabriel was this year’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy from the Sharks. Despite his perseverance, the pending unrestricted free agent remains unsigned. Like Donato, the Kraken have the opportunity to sign Gabriel before Wednesday morning.
While Gabriel didn’t register points on the scoreboard — he had zero points in 11 games last season — he was happy to drop the gloves, notching 55 penalty minutes, including this bout with Los Angeles Kings defender Kurtis MacDermid.
Kurtis Gabriel and Kurtis MacDermid drop the gloves pic.twitter.com/9IkwOveOLN
— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) March 23, 2021
Dylan Gambrell, Forward
24-year-old Gambrell re-signed with the Sharks on July 15 to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Gambrell is a depth forward that the Sharks won’t lose any sleep over if they lose. He played 49 games for the Sharks last season, scoring 12 points (5 G, 7 A). He was also a minus-18.
Gambrell has played his entire professional career with the Sharks, 110 games in total. Over that time, he has just 23 points (10 G, 13 A) and was a minus-26.
Fans will remember Gambrell’s bittersweet first NHL goal as the only goal the Sharks scored in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Western Conference Final.
Jayden Halbgewachs, Forward
So far, the 24-year-old Halbgewachs hasn’t found his way to the NHL. For the last three seasons, he’s played with the San Jose Barracuda in the American Hockey League. The fact that he hasn’t received a call-up even though the Sharks have plenty of room on the roster is probably a bad sign for Halbgewachs. He under-performed in his last season with the Barracuda, putting up just 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 25 games.
He’s signed for one more year at $725,000, according to CapFriendly.
Maxim Letunov, Forward
The 25-year-old Letunov has played a grand total of three NHL games in his career and has just one point to show for it. Unfortunately, the goal came in the 2019-20 season and he was never called up last season.
Letunov is a pending unrestricted free agent.
Patrick Marleau, Forward
While Marleau’s also a pending unrestricted free agent, it’s hard to picture the Kraken signing the 41-year-old to a new contract. If he’s skating in the NHL next season, it’s probably for the Sharks and only the Sharks.
So, let’s just cherish this video of the night he broke Gordie Howe’s games played record instead:
Matt Nieto, Forward
The 28-year-old winger signed a two-year deal with the Sharks last month. With an $850,000 AAV, the speedy forward may be a good target for the Kraken for some cheap and serviceable depth. The only downside is that Nieto is on the Injured Reserve list, according to CapFriendly. He missed the final 28 games of the season after he was injured on March 19 against the St. Louis Blues.
Nieto has played 500 games in the NHL, splitting time between the Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche. He has 158 points (67 goals, 91 assists) over his nine NHL seasons.
Marcus Sorensen, Forward
29-year-old Sorensen is a pending unrestricted free agent that likely won’t be re-signed with the Sharks. He’s had his shot over the past few years, but never seemed to live up to his peak in the 2018-19 season, when he scored 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) over 80 games.
His production dropped off. Last season, he played just 29 games for the Sharks. He scored 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) during that time.
This clip here, where he missed a wide-open net during the March 20, 2021 game against the Blues, pretty much sums up how much Sorensen’s game has fallen off:
Alexander True, Forward
24-year-old True is a pending restricted free agent that still hasn’t been re-signed to the Sharks. He played seven games with the Sharks in a bottom-six role last season and registered just one assist. Over his two seasons in the NHL, he’s played 19 games and has 5 points. He has yet to score a goal in the NHL.
Christian Jaros, Defenseman
The 25-year-old right-shot defenseman played seven games for the Sharks last season and registered just 1 assist. He was a minus-4. Jaros has played 83 career NHL games, playing his first three seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Over his NHL career, he has put up just 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists) and is a career minus-20.
He is currently a pending restricted free agent.
Nicolas Meloche, Defenseman
Meloche is another right-shot defenseman that so far hasn’t shown he’s ready for the jump to the big league. The 24-year-old played seven games for the Sharks this past season and had just 1 assist during that time. He played only one game where he logged more than 11 minutes. On Feb. 22, against the Minnesota Wild, Meloche logged his highest ice time of the season, playing 13:10 in 19 shifts.
He’s signed for one more season at $750,000.
Jacob Middleton, Defenseman
At the start of the 2020-21 season, Middleton was slated to be the Sharks’ seventh defender, slotting in when other players got injured. The trouble was that Middleton never found his way into the lineup. He played just one game for the Sharks last season and ended at a minus-2.
The 25-year-old is a left shot defenseman who has never really secured a spot on the Sharks roster. He made his NHL debut in the 2018-19 season, but only lasted three games before he was sent back down to the Barracuda. Since debuting, younger players like Mario Ferraro and Nikolai Knyzhov have moved above him on the Sharks’ depth chart (they are both exempt from the expansion draft).
Middleton is signed for one more year, with a cap hit of $725,000.
Greg Pateryn, Defenseman
Pateryn is a pending unrestricted free agent that the Sharks received at the 2021 trade deadline in exchange for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The Sharks also got a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft as park of the package.
Pateryn played two games for the Sharks following the trade and registered just one assist. In his career, he has played 280 games with 42 points (4 goals, 38 assists).
Radim Simek, Defenseman
A left-handed shot, Simek seemed like the answer the Sharks were looking for during the 2018-19 season. Simek’s solid defense allowed Brent Burns to go to work and produce. He played 41 games in his rookie season and put up a respectable 9 points (1 goal, 8 assists) as a stay-at-home defenseman partnered mostly with Burns
However, injuries hurt Simek’s progress. On March 12, 2019, the Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp fell on Simek’s leg awkwardly, knocking the defenseman out for the rest of the season.
Simek took months to recover and returned in November of next year, but he was never really the same.
The 28-year-old is signed for three more seasons at an AAV of $2.25 million. Even if he’s not picked by the Kraken, the Sharks would be happy to trade him away if the price is right.
Martin Jones, Goaltender
Everyone knew it was happening, so it’s no surprise that Jones is the goaltender the Sharks exposed in this year’s expansion draft. So far, no other team is willing to take on Jones’ contract. If he’s not snagged by the Kraken, it’s likely the Sharks will buy out the remaining three years of his $5.75 million average annual value contract.
Jones has had flashes of brilliance during his career, but has fallen off over the past few seasons. Instead of dwelling on the collapse of his game, let’s revel in the highlights from his 2018-19 season, back when the Sharks were playoffs-bound: