The Sharks issued qualifying offers to pending restricted free-agent forwards Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney, the team announced on Monday. San Jose did not, however, issue a qualifying offer to defenseman Dylan DeMelo, who now becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The former moves don't come as a surprise, but the latter is, at least somewhat. After two seasons in and out of the lineup, the 25-year-old DeMelo established himself as a regular on San Jose's blueline from November onward this past season. He scored 20 points (all assists), playing in 60 of the Sharks' final 63 regular season games, as well as each of the team's 10 playoff games.
DeMelo was due a qualifying offer worth $735,000, or 105 percent of his base salary from last season. Not issuing DeMelo a qualifying offer means he can re-sign with the Sharks for less than that, but he will also have the opportunity to sign elsewhere without San Jose receiving compensation.
Should DeMelo not come back, the Sharks would likely turn to an internal option as his replacement. Tim Heed, a fellow right-handed blueliner who scored 11 points in 29 NHL games last year, is signed through next season for $650,000 per CapFriendly, while lefties Nick DeSimone (20 AHL points last season) and Radim Simek (27 points) are signed through next year at $925,000 and $675,000 at the NHL level, respectively. San Jose drafted right-handed defenseman Ryan Merkley in the first round of Friday's draft, but the 17-year-old told reporters he thinks he's at least a year away from the NHL.
If it's indeed Heed who takes DeMelo's spot, the Sharks would save nearly $100,000 against the salary cap. In the meantime, San Jose can continue negotiating with Tierney and Hertl, both of whom are eligible for salary arbitration.