Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of NHL training camp
Name/Position: Patrick Marleau, left wing
Age: 34 (turns 35 on Sept. 15)
Salary: $7 million
Contract status: Signed through 2016-17 ($6.67 million cap hit)
2013-14 year in review: It was another productive season for the longtime Sharks forward, who finished second on the team with 33 goals (tied for 11th in the NHL) and third in points (70). Marleau was one of four Sharks to appear in all 82 games, the seventh time in his career he’s been healthy for the full campaign, including each of the last five seasons. Marleau helped Team Canada win gold in Sochi, the second of his career, notching four assists in six games. He tallied seven points in the playoffs against the Kings (3g, 4a), but none in the final three games, as he was one of many top players that struggled late in the first-round loss.
2014-15 outlook: Here’s a stat that probably doesn’t get mentioned enough when it comes to Patrick Marleau: In the last six seasons, only Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin and Corey Perry have more goals than Marleau’s 199. Marleau deserves credit for consistently being among the league’s top producers, which includes seven career 30-goal seasons. Further, he and Logan Couture have good chemistry, and it’s probable that when training camp starts in a few weeks, they'll be back on a line together again.
Still, Marleau’s future in San Jose is in doubt. He’s still a part of a core group that hasn’t been able to get the team close to a trip to the Stanley Cup Final (yes, the Sharks have made it to two Western Conference Finals, but they were dispatched fairly easily in both. That’s not close). Doug Wilson’s comments over the summer suggest he’s ready to move on from the Marleau/Joe Thornton era, so if he’s going to trade either or both, the best time to do it would be sometime this season while they have the most value. Wilson has lately dialed back the “one step backwards, two steps forward” talk that we heard in May, but I still believe he’s open to moving Marleau if the right deal comes along that is agreeable to all parties -- Marleau and his full no-trade clause included.
Back in June, I got the impression Marleau was annoyed with some of Wilson’s comments from earlier in the offseason. He didn’t say it outright when a group of us met with him in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards, but you could tell he was choosing his words carefully. Interestingly, Marleau admitted that there might have been a rift in the team’s dressing room, considering the epic collapse against the Kings and the pattern of playoff failure over the years.
Wilson hasn’t wavered on his declaration that there’s no earned equity for any of the players headed into training camp, and if some are uncomfortable -- from the rookies right up to the older guys like Marleau -- so be it. It will be up to the players and coaching staff to rectify what the general manager has identified as the biggest problem of fixing the dressing room atmosphere.
[RELATED: Sharks must now solve dressing room problem]
As for Marleau, everyone knows what he brings in terms of on-ice productivity, and another 30-goal season is entirely possible. Still, his future in teal could depend as much as what he does off of the ice than what he’s been doing on it for so many years.