The NHL has revealed the salary cap for the 2015-16 season, and it represents just a marginal increase from last year. NHL clubs will be permitted to spend up to $71.4 million, a modest bump from last year’s limit of $69 million.
According to generalfanager.com, the Sharks have approximately $17.7 million in cap space at present, committed to 17 players.
That number does not include pending restricted free agents Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson, both of whom are expected to be signed by the club in the coming weeks.
Still, assuming that Dillon comes in at the $3-4 million range and Karlsson in the $1-2 million range, the Sharks will have plenty of options as the NHL Draft approaches at the end of the week and the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1.
San Jose is still searching for a starting goalie and needs help on defense, but could also be on the lookout for a scoring winger. According to one report, the Ducks’ Matt Beleskey is one player that’s high on their list, should the winger not come to terms on an extension with Anaheim.
Wilson confirmed on Friday that defense is a priority. Among the blueliners expected to be available are Mike Green, Andrej Sekera, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Oduya and Cody Franson.
“You can only dabble in [free agency] if you have cap space, which we have,” Wilson said.
They are also in a position to take on a high-salaried player that could become available via the trade market. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks are already reportedly in talks to shed salary, with winger Patrick Sharp the most likely player to get dealt.
Action will surely heat up headed into the first round of the draft on Friday at Florida’s BB&T Center. The Sharks own eight picks, including the ninth and 39th overall selections.
“We’ve got to have a good draft; we’ve got to make good decisions on utilizing those assets and using the cap space that we have,” Wilson said.
Wilson also confirmed that Sharks owner Hasso Plattner has permitted him to spend to the limit, after the team operated well below the salary cap in 2014-15 in what was labeled as a transitional season.
“Our owner is fully committed. That’s not an issue at all,” Wilson said.
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The Sharks are still on the hook for three players next season that won’t be wearing teal. They owe Marty Havlat another $2 million as part of his compliance buyout last year, Adam Burish is due $616,666 for his buyout this offseason, and $1.19 million of Jason Demers’ salary in Dallas San Jose’s responsibility after he was traded for Dillon last November.
Burish and Demers count against the cap, while Havlat does not.