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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

San Jose Sharks: 5 Free Agents That Must Be Re-Signed This Summer - Bleacher Report

The San Jose Sharks have a difficult summer looming ahead.

Their $8.7 million worth of cap room is the seventh least in the NHL, and their roster size as of July 1â€"the day free agency beginsâ€"will be the fourth-smallest in the league, as only 14 Sharks will remain under contract.

So while $8.7 million in cap room sounds like enough to bring in a couple quality free agents, the Sharks need to bring in several FAs just to fill out their roster.

Luckily for them, there are several upcoming FAs that will be cheap to re-sign and will provide the team with good value.

The five re-signings proposed in this article will cost the Sharks under $5 million and bring their roster to 19. This will leave the team with solid depth, a much fuller roster and still nearly $4 million to go out and sign one high quality or a couple mid-level free agents.

The Sharks may clear up more cap space via trade, and it wouldn't be a bad idea. But even if they don't, they can improve their team by re-signing theseâ€"and only theseâ€"five players to NHL contracts.

Dominic Moore

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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

2011-12 cap hit: $1.1 million


Why he should be re-signed

Dominic Moore was a major disappointment during his short stint in San Jose. Doug Wilson brought Moore in to improve the penalty kill, provide playoff experience and increase checking-line speed and physicality.

During 26 games with San Jose, Moore scored no goals, had a minus-nine rating and didn't play well on the penalty kill.

So why re-sign him? Unfortunately, Wilson moved a second-round draft pick to bring in Moore. The Sharks won't find many better fourth-line options for under $1 million, and they might as well give a full season to Moore considering their investment.

Projected new contract: One year, $1 million cap hit

Daniel Winnik

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

2011-12 cap hit: $950,000

Why he should be re-signed

Much like Dominic Moore, the Sharks made an investment in Daniel Winnik this past February. They moved the blossoming young Jamie McGinn in order to acquire Winnik and T.J. Galiardi. Winnik was brought in to improve the penalty kill, provide third-line physicality and play smart hockey.

While the PK didn't improve with Winnik, he did a decent job with his unit and also got going offensively after a tough first month in San Jose. He had one assist and was a minus-three during his first 12 games with the Sharks, but scored three goals, four points and was a plus-three during the final nine games of the season.

Winnik seemed to be very happy in San Jose and settled into his role near the end of the season. Looking ahead, he could be an important checking-line forward for this club and will likely come at a reasonable price.

Projected new contract: Two years, $1.25 million cap hit

Brad Winchester

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

2011-12 cap hit: $725,000

Why he should be re-signed

The San Jose Sharks brought in Brad Winchester to essentially replace Ben Eagerâ€"a big, strong fourth-line enforcer who's also fast and can provide a hard shot. This type of player is valuable; while using a roster spot on a pure goon is unproductive, bringing in a guy who can be effective playing dirty and cleanly can do wonders for a team.

Winchester didn't disappoint, as his hard shot provided some key goals while his hard skating and checking provided energy. However, he was a little less consistently physical than the Sharks hoped he'd be, and injury problems and PK struggles kept him out of the lineup often down the stretch.

However, given Winchester's minuscule cap hit and ability to really impact a game every so often, the Sharks should bring him back in hopes that he'll play his game more consistently in year two.

Projected new contract: One year, $800, 000 cap hit

Tommy Wingels

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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

2011-12 cap hit: $875,000

Why he should be re-signed

Tommy Wingels was the San Jose Sharks' best depth forward in 2011-12 (not including Jamie McGinn). Despite limited playing time and an inconsistent roleâ€"Wingels played everywhere from top-six minutes with the second line to limited fourth-line minutes to being a nightly scratchâ€"Wingels' game itself was quite consistent.

In just 33 games, Wingels finished fourth on the Sharks with 102 hits. He only scored three goals, but the offensive upside he displayed was reminiscent of a younger Jamie McGinn; he could break out offensively down the line.

As a restricted free agent, San Jose must only offer Wingels a five percent increase on last year's contract. It should be a no-brainer move.

Projected new contract: Two years, $925,000 cap hit

Justin Braun

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2011-12 cap hit: $875,000

Why he should be re-signed

The 2011-12 San Jose Sharks were supposed to have phenomenal defensive depth, with eight defenseman capable of contributing. But when Colin White, Jim Vandermeer and Jason Demers all faltered, San Jose's defensive depth suddenly became cause for concern.

The only solid third-pairing blueliner was Justin Braun. Braun's offensive aggression and hard shot put pressure on opposing defenses, and his defensive play grew consistently as the season progressed. The lack of a trustworthy stay-at-home partner limited Braun offensively and punished him defensively, but if the Sharks can find a solid veteran this offseason, Braun will eventually break out.

As a restricted free agent, San Jose only needs to offer Braun a five percent increase on last year's contract. He should be the only free-agent defenseman San Jose will want to re-sign, which makes him even more affordable.

Projected new contract: One year, $925,000 cap hit

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