The San Jose Sharks seem to have made their choices on a dozen restricted free agents (RFAs) on Monday, July 30. CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz reported that tenders were extended to current NHL players Jason Demers, Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard as well as prospects Harri Sateri, Matt Tennyson and Taylor Doherty that all comprise the photo list.
According to numbers provided by David Pollack’s similar report Monday in the San Jose Mercury News, those tenders had to be at least $892,000 to Wingels, $871,500 to Sheppard and $1.5 million to Demers. Without them, those players would have become unrestricted free agents Tuesday.
That is exactly what has happened for six other RFAs: Nick Petrecki, Sena Acolatse, Adam Comrie, Sebastian Stalberg, Marek Viedensky and Brodie Reid. Any team can now sign them all for any amount (probably to league-minimum, two-way contracts that only count against the salary cap while the player is in the NHL) without having to give the Sharks anything in return.
Both the players offered tenders and those that were not were obvious decisions. It is time to move on from players in their mid-twenties that collectively played in one NHL game and are not even studs at the AHL level. However, those that are already playing at the highest level in either league are worth the modest commitment the team has made.
Sateri’s tender was a formality to maintain exclusive NHL negotiating rights with him should he return from the KHL. Tennyson and Doherty are the top two prospects in the system and should get two-way contract offers in the million-dollar range like the ones they are coming off. They are expected to fight for a roster spot in San Jose this October.
The likelihood is that Demers, Wingels and Sheppard will all likely receive more than those minimums unless no teams around the NHL are willing to offer more. The Sharks would have the right to match any tender, and according to My NHL Trade Rumors only players signed away to contracts over $1.1 million warrant any compensation.
That third-round pick moves to the second round before offers of $1.7 million annually. No one on this list has any chance of netting compensation of picks in the first and third round for contracts over $3.36 million.
Particularly with Wingels and Demers, San Jose could be waiting to see if anyone offers something requiring compensation before committing to paying them that much. Chances are, offers under $2 million would be matched while any close to $3 million would mean settling for the compensatory second-round draft pick. Both were taken after the fifth round of the 2008 NHL draft, just turned 26 and are coming off career seasons.
Sheppard may have also had his best year, but was not even an everyday player. He was the second-highest scoring Shark in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and may be ready to become an everyday impact player, but the team would likely welcome getting back the third-round pick they used to trade for him in 2011 as compensation for losing him should anyone offer him over $1.1 million.
It is extremely unlikely anyone will take any of the players away from San Jose. The tenders will allow them to buy time to sign the players during the free agency period, and even Wingels’ agent expressed confidence to Pollack that a deal would get done even though Kurz described the parties as not close on their figures.
Expect all six restricted free agents that get a tender to be with the Sharks in the 2014-15 NHL season. The 24-year old Tennyson should see his four career games increase and the 23-year old Doherty should make his debut against the best hockey talent in the world.