Grading the San Jose Sharks' 2015 NHL Free Agency

By Bradley Phillipps
Paul Martin 2014 IIHF Olympics Team USA
Al Bello – Getty Images

Fans of the San Jose Sharks were expecting the worst when they signed John Scott and acquired Tye McGinn to add more grit to their roster. Unfortunately, the fans were right as the Sharks finished with their worst record in ten seasons. The issue of Doug Wilson throwing this season away is still debatable, but a season like 2014-15 isn’t acceptable to fans. So how did the Sharks respond?

First, they had to sign their restricted free agents which they did as both Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson were signed to cap-friendly contracts. This gave the Sharks about $12 million in cap space to find a goaltender and improve their defense. However, they weren’t done signing young players. After the 2015 IIHF World Championships, the Sharks lured shootout specialist Joonas Donskoi to bring versatility to their lineup. To land a guy like this on an entry-level contract is a steal.

Despite this, free agency wasn’t complete for the Sharks. The day before free agency day, they traded their first-round pick to shore up the goaltending with Martin Jones. With one of the best and youngest goalies available, this team paid a premium to get their starting goalie, but they fixed the problem. Afterwards, the main problem was the defense.

So on July 1, they signed Paul Martin to a cap-friendly contract. Martin is a top-4 option who will stabilize the defense as he is one of the few players who can handle the inconsistencies of Brent Burns‘ play. Then to fill out their forward depth the Sharks signed Joel Ward to a three-year deal. Ward provides the physical presence that Raffi Torres brought before his injury and is a good fit along with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Overall Sharks fans should be grateful that Wilson used all of his cap space like he said he would. The moves made during free agency is enough to make this team a contender again. However, using their first-round pick on a goalie (albeit a good one) is a questionable move when they could have re-signed Antti Niemi. That is why I give the Sharks a B+ for their efforts as this offseason was a step in the right direction.

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