GM Doug Wilson announced that the team will sign the 40-year-old Marleau, who is the franchise leader in games (1,493), goals (508) and points (1,082). The deal is for one year with a $700,000 cap hit, which is the league minimum.
The signing would necessitate a roster move, as Cap Friendly had the Sharks with just $7,837 in cap space without Marleau on the roster.
The forward last played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, finishing last season with 37 points in 82 games — the 10th straight season in which he didn’t miss a game.
But his $6.25 million annual average salary was too much for the cap-strapped Leafs, who traded him to Carolina. The Hurricanes made the move in order to buy out the last year of Marleau’s contract, which netted them a first-round pick in 2020 (or 2021, if Toronto is in the lottery this summer).
Marleau had skated with former Sharks teammate Joe Thornton in the run-up to the season, and there was speculation that he could rejoin San Jose. But Wilson dismissed that notion in the offseason, citing a collection of younger players the Sharks wanted to give ice time and saying the franchise was in a different place than it was when Marleau left for Toronto in 2017.
Perhaps the Sharks’ frustrating start caused for an early shakeup. San Jose started the season 0-3-0, mustering only three goals scored to 12 against. The team lost three forwards to free agency in the offseason: Wingers Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist, and center Joe Pavelski, the team’s captain who left a leadership void in the dressing room.
Marleau captained the Sharks from 2003-09.