May 23, 2019 | 10:46pm ET
PAVELSKI ‘CONFIDENT’ HE’LL BE BACK AS SHARKS FACE DECISIONS
Joe Pavelski, centre
Now that their season has come to a close, the San Jose Sharks will shift their focus to the off-season and what potential changes may come over the course of summer.
The Sharks have several significant pending unrestricted free agents, and two significant restricted free agents in Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, and GM Doug Wilson knows he has a lot of work ahead of him in a fairly short period of time.
“Right now, I’m still in the reflection mode of this year,” Wilson told reporters on Thursday.
“I’ve had lots of conversations throughout the year with agents and players, but right now I’m not at that point yet. (But) I’ll get there soon.”
Forwards Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi and Michael Haley, and defencemen Erik Karlsson and Tim Heed, are schedule to become UFAs July 1, and it will be a tremendous challenge for Wilson to keep every one of them.
The Sharks have roughly $24.5 million in available salary cap space for next season, but that will get spoken for rather quickly.
Thornton, who turns 40 on July 2, will speak with his family and decide whether or not he wants to continue his playing career in the NHL. He stayed relatively healthy this season, and he could re-sign a one-year deal with the club, but a decision won’t be made for a few weeks, at least.
“We’ll see. I haven't made any decision,” Thornton said. “I feel like I can still play, that’s for sure. But I haven’t made any decision.”
Asked if he would consider alternative options outside of San Jose, Thornton was quick to shut that down.
“I’m a Shark,” he said. “There’s one team and it’s here.”
Pavelski said he’s “pretty confident” he will return next season, but the two sides aren’t close to a new contract. That, however, is not a concern for the Sharks captain.
“I have a pretty strong belief system that I’ll be back here,” he said. “Things just have to work themselves out along the way. We have a lot of things going on with many different. It’s nothing I’m too worried about.”
There isn’t a timeline mapped out, just yet, as to when Wilson and Pavelski’s agent will get down to negotiating an extension, but talks are likely to pick up in early-June.
“We love it here. We really do,” Pavelski said. “I’m sure things will move along.”
Wilson admitted the difficulties in keeping this team together, noting “it’s the nature of the business of a cap system,” which could spell the end of Karlsson’s short one-year tenure in San Jose.
Karlsson, according to multiple sources, is expected to at the very least speak with other teams during the NHL talking period, which begins on June 24 – at that point, pending UFAs are allowed to speak with other teams, but neither side is permitted to exchange numbers.
The 28-year-old star said that he hasn’t “really thought of any of that,” with respect to where he might play next season, but he admits he has “nothing but good things to say” about his experience in San Jose.
“I enjoyed my time here,” he said. “Whatever happens is going to happen for a reason.”