Returning for the third time the San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau is back after playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Marleau also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs after leaving San Jose the first time. (image from @SAPSports)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks have been busy signing and re-signing familiar players. Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto return from their 2020 pandemic playoff teams. Kevin Labanc and Stefan Noesen were resigned. The Sharks also added a goaltender, trading a 2022 fifth round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Devan Dubnyk and a 2022 seventh round pick.
Of Dubnyk, the Sharks press release said: “Over his 11-year NHL career, the three-time NHL All-Star (2016, 2017, 2019) has appeared in 520 NHL games, earning a 247-195-52 record with a 2.58 GAA, .915 save percentage and 32 shutouts. He has also appeared in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with Minnesota, earning an 8-18 record with a 2.72 GAA and .904 SV% with two shutouts.” Minnesota retained 50% of Dubnyk’s salary. This is the last year of that contract.
Sharks General Manager, Doug Wilson said: “Devan has been one of the League’s top goaltenders for many years and after playing so many years in the Western Conference, is someone our hockey staff is very familiar with. As we head into what will surely be a unique season, his acquisition gives us a high-quality and experienced tandem of netminders.”
Patrick Marleau resigned a one-year contract with San Jose after playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins from the last trade deadline through a 2020 playoff run. Last season, Marleau joined the Sharks after the season started and had a good start, which faded along with the rest of the 2019-20 Sharks team. Despite that, he reached a number of milestones in 58 games with the Sharks. The team press release ennumerated them:
“In his first game back in teal, Marleau scored two goals to become the eighth player in NHL history to score a goal in his teens & 40s with the same franchise on Oct. 10 at Chicago. On Dec. 12, 2019 vs. the New York Rangers, he and Joe Thornton became the first set of teammates in NHL history having 1,600 regular-season games to their resume to play in the same game. Marleau appeared in his 1,700th NHL game on Jan. 11 vs. the Dallas Stars to become the fifth skater to reach the mark and scored his 100th career game-winning goal as a Shark the same night. On Jan. 27, he collected his 1,100th point as a Shark, achieving his 22nd consecutive season of at least 10 or more goals.”
Matt Nieto has also returned after playing 70 games with the Colorado Avalanche, including a playoff run in the Edmonton bubble. Nieto as drafted by the Sharks in 2011. Of the move, Doug Wilson said in a press release:
“Matt’s a player we’re obviously familiar with having been here for our Stanley Cup Final run in 2016 and he plays with speed and energy. His quickness and defensive responsibility made him one of the top penalty killers on Colorado and we feel that those assets, along with his decision making and playmaking, will bring a lot of elements to our team. We’re excited to have Matt back in San Jose.”
Kevin Labanc was re-signed to a four-year contract. Per ESPN, Labanc’s contract is worth an annual $4,725,000. Wilson said of the young forward:
“Kevin brings a rare level of offensive skill and creativity to our line-up and has established himself as a top-six forward in our league. His Game 7 playoff performance last season is one of the most iconic moments in Sharks history and is a perfect example of the impact he can have on a hockey game. Kevin has shown a consistent ability to perform at a high level in both the regular season and the playoffs and he will be a big part of our club in the coming years.”
Stefan Noesen was also re-signed from last year’s roster. Last season, Noesen joined the Sharks December 19 after being claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh. In the foreshortened season with San Jose, Noesen scored seven goals and to assists, and took 32 penalty minutes. He was the first Sharks player since Timo Meier to score a goal in his team debut.
Of Noesen’s return to the team, Wilson said:
“Stefan came in here last season and made a pretty seamless transition both on and off the ice. He plays the game with a high tempo and energy and isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates. We think he fits well with how we want our team to play and are happy he is returning to San Jose.”
One very familiar face is still missing from next season’s roster: Joe Thornton. He has not yet signed with an NHL team, but is playing in Davos, Switzerland to prepare. He has not ruled out coming back to San Jose, but it is far from certain at this time.