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San Jose Sharks goaltending situation: Is it 2003 all over again?

San Jose Sharks general manager Mike Grier hasn’t been in a rush these last few days to say how he’ll resolve his goaltending situation, or which way he’ll proceed with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s contract.

That theme continued Friday after a busy second day at the NHL Draft, as Grier kept his plans for two of the bigger issues he’ll have this offseason close to the vest.

The Sharks came out of the draft in Montreal with the same three goalies they had before in Kaapo Kahkonen, James Reimer, and Adin Hill, who all remain under team control for next season.

While a three-headed monster in goal is hardly an ideal situation for any team, Grier, at least on the surface, wasn’t completely ruling it out for the start of training camp.

With a handful of teams looking for goaltending right now, perhaps there’s no rush to declare intentions.

“Everything is on the table with regards to that,” he said. “But if you looked around the league during the playoffs and the regular season, you need goaltending. Having three is not the worst thing in the world.

“If something comes up where we can use (the depth) to make ourselves better, we will. We’ll see how it goes, but we have three goaltenders that we like and I think that’s a good thing.”

Grier on Thursday told ESPN, “It’s all about competition. I think that’s part of the culture we’re trying to bring in is that the best player wins and the best players play. It’s all about internal competition. We think that’s how we’ll make our team better.”

The cap hits for Reimer and Hill for next season are $2.25 million and $2.175 million, respectively. Kahkonen is a pending restricted free agent.

One might predict based on his experience that the average annual value of Kahkonen’s next contract will be similar to Hill’s. However, Evolving-Hockey’s contract projection suggests Kahkonen’s deal has a 61 percent chance of being one or two years, with a cap hit of $2.48 million.

Any way you slice it, it’s a lot of money to have as a healthy scratch on a nightly basis, and not the most comfortable situation for anyone. But, Grier’s got some time to figure out what he feels is the best move for the Sharks. Considering both Reimer and Hill dealt with injuries last season, maybe keeping three to start is the way to go.

San Jose Sharks’ James Sheppard, left, tries to deflect the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, from Finland, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)

The Sharks had three goalies in the early 2000s with Evgeni Nabokov, Vesa Toskala, and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Kiprusoff, who was third on San Jose’s depth chart and hadn’t started a game in the first month of the 2003-04 season, was dealt to the Calgary Flames for a 2005 second-round draft pick, who turned into Vlasic.

Coincidentally, the deal took place just a few months after Doug Wilson took the reins as the Sharks’ general manager.

It turned into a win-win for both the Sharks and Flames.

San Jose used a pick on a player that would become one of the NHL’s best shutdown defensemen and is now second on the team’s all-time games played list with 1,161. Kiprusoff won the Vezina Trophy in 2006 with the Flames and is the franchise leader in games played (576), wins (305) and shutouts (41).

“We got full asset value for (Kiprusoff),” Wilson said at the time.

Now Grier’s in a similar situation with his three goalies. Although he has a salary cap to deal with, unlike Wilson at the time, staying patient and waiting for a trade to come to him might be the most prudent move.

Regarding Vlasic, the first buyout window closes Tuesday. Vlasic has four years left on the eight-year, $56 million contract he and the Sharks agreed to in July 2017.

A buyout would save the Sharks a combined $8.8 million over the next two years, but the dead money from the move would stay on the Sharks’ books for eight years and reduce the amount of experience they have at left defense.

Source: Paradise Post