(Photo: San Jose Sharks)

The San Jose Sharks entered free agent frenzy with less of a splash and more of a toe dipped slowly in the water. It was, apparently, part of GM Doug Wilson’s plan for a “rebuild” this coming season. He made it clear that they did not intend to participate early in free agency to find that one big name. Instead, they planned on focusing the team on the younger players already in the system, according to Doug Wilson.

Have they gotten younger? They traded the rights to defenseman Dan Boyle before free agency and bought out Marty Havlat. However, they then signed veteran enforcer John Scott in a move that had many scratching their heads. On day 8 of free agency, the Sharks announced two players had been re-signed. Then today, day 10 of free agency, San Jose announced two more players had been re-signed as well as two new signings.

With the two moves announced on July 8th, San Jose kept rolling with the idea of turning the team over to younger players. Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard, both 26, will return for next season.

Tommy Wingels signed a three year deal to stay in San Jose. The forward out of Miami (Ohio) posted 38 points and 7 game winning goals during 77 games in the 2013-2014 season. He set a franchise record for most hits in a game (12) and had a career high season in points, goals, and assists. He has become a staple in the Sharks line up after coming to the organization as a 6th round pick in the 2008 draft. Over the course of the next three seasons, Wingels will have a cap hit of $2.475 million.

James Sheppard signed a one year deal that will pay him $1.3 million next season. Sheppard surprised in the Sharks short postseason run this year, registering 6 points in 7 games. He finished tied for second in points, goals, and assists. After suffering what could have been a career ending knee injury, Sheppard came to the Sharks in a trade and has fought his way back to the NHL.

San Jose has followed that up by re-signing two defensemen and splitting the idea of veteran leadership and younger players. The Sharks have resigned Scott Hannan, 35, to a one year contract. He skated in 56 games during 2013-2014 and will likely act as a veteran influence for the younger players on the team. One such player could be Matt Tennyson, who the Sharks came to terms with on a two year contract. The 24 year old has only appeared in 4 NHL games so far, but the Sharks believe he will be able to crack their line-up.

In addition to these moves, San Jose signed a pair of 28 year old forwards that are likely headed to the AHL. The first move was the sign Micheal Haley. So far, he has registered 114 points and 940 penalty minutes in 369 career AHL games. He has 52 games of NHL experience and will bring grit wherever he plays. Haley is definitely a player that teams look out for after having played him.

Finally, the Sharks signed Bryan Lerg. He has had 154 points and 100 penalty minutes in 280 AHL games. Last season, he served as the captain of the Lake Erie Monsters but only appeared in 35 games. However, during the 2011-2012 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Lerg registered 27 goals in 70 games.

A New England girl, born and raised, Jessica Higham has grown up loving few things more than hockey. Although she has never considered herself to be a good skater, she fell in love with hockey back when boys still had cooties and that love has only grown since. She genuinely wishes she had been alive to enjoy ‘Miracle on Ice’ and considers it to be one of the greatest moments in US history. Nothing compares to the feeling of September coming and signaling the start of a new season, complete with a whole new set of ups and downs. After having been an avid reader and occasional writer, Jessica wanted to try putting the two loves together and writing about hockey. Aside from hockey, Jessica also loves music, going to concerts, animals, and walking on the beach. Email: jessica@thepinkpuck.com @JessicaHigham


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