Sharks Free-agency Decisions: Where San Jose's Salary Cap Situation Stands

It's fair to say that, unless you are a math whiz, the details surrounding the NHL salary cap and how it affects the free agent market are a bit confusing.

Add to that the emotion that goes into a fan base having to come to grips with why a staple of the team is on the move -- ahem, Joe Pavelski -- and the cap becomes even harder to understand.

To be fair, looking at contract numbers and the salary cap isn't fun for writers either. Many of us like being journalists because it, for the most part, means not having to do much math. But if we can follow all these contract figures and cap constraints, you probably can too.

So, with a lot of help from CapFriendly, here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the Sharks' cap space situation as free agency begins Monday.

-- Heading into the July 1st opening of the market, San Jose has $66,657,417 on the books for just 15 contracts. Those players include: Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Marcus Sorensen, Barclay Goodrow, Lukas Radil , Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brenden Dillon, Jacob Middleton, Radim Simek, Martin Jones and Aaron Dell.

Keep in mind, those are just the players under contract and includes the $1,416,667 for Paul Martin in the final year of his contract, which the Sharks bought out.

That's not many players and not a lot of cap space with a whopping 22 players about to hit the market. Basically, the Sharks would have to reconstruct and trade most of its roster in order to keep everyone from last season. 

-- Which means the Sharks have $14,842,583 in available cap space heading into free agency.

On that note ...

-- There's understandably a lot of emotion involved in watching Pavelski go to another team. From strictly a numbers' standpoint: Pavelski's last contract carried a $6,000,000 hit against the cap. Subtract that from the over $14.8 million, and there's barely any room left to sign anyone else on the long list of free agents, both unrestricted or restricted. 

While we're on that subject ...

-- San Jose has a few big RFAs that it needs to sign, and it isn't entirely sure how big their new contracts could be, particularly Timo Meier's. 

Granted, the Sharks have had a lot of success in the past signing pending RFAs to short-term bridge contracts a la Tomas Hertl in 2016. But there's no guarantee how much money will go into a short-term deal either, and remember, Meier isn't the only young RFA the Sharks want to get signed to a contract this offseason.

-- The Sharks still can move some players in order to get some wiggle room under the cap and sign some of their free agents. Players who only have one year left on their contracts are the most likely to be moved, which is what made defenseman Justin Braun a likely trade piece before he was sent to Philadelphia.

But that still takes plenty of work. Don't be shocked if the Sharks don't completely overhaul their entire roster in the first week the market is open just to make room under the cap. That could leave them unable to put a competent team on the ice.

[RELATED: NHL free agency: Predicting landing spots for top players]

-- This offseason's list of Sharks free agents probably is extra overwhelming due to the number of high-profile players who are on it and not signed to deals. 

Keep in mind, however, that there's actually a fair amount of roster turnover from season to season because of salary cap restraints. Remember, before the 2018-19 season started, Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo were Sharks. Changes to teams are business decisions, not emotional ones.

Don't expect the July 1st opening of the market to be the end of things either. With a roster to fill out and cap space to create, there's plenty of work to be done before training camp gets underway in September.

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