Three Players the Sharks Might Have to Trade to Clear Salary-cap Space

The first few days of NHL free agency have been long and emotional for the Sharks. But there is far more work that needs to be done before the end of the summer.

San Jose still has 16 players on its free agent docket with a roster that needs to be filled out and just $6,382,583 in cap space, according to CapFriendly. If the Sharks are going to sign Kevin Labanc, Dylan Gambrell and Joe Thornton, they're going to have to make some moves -- even if it means making another Justin Braun-style trade that gets rid of a familiar face for the sake of creating cap space.

Here's a look at a few current Sharks who have been mentioned in trade rumors this summer, and the overall likelihood they'll be on the move as the team searches for relief under the salary cap.

Melker Karlsson, Forward

The Swedish winger long has been a favorite of Peter DeBoer. He's a player that the Sharks' coach feels comfortable moving throughout the lineup to try and create offense and is a familiar face on San Jose's penalty kill.

But Karlsson could be a player that gets moved, given he's entering the final year of his current contract and carries a $2 million hit against the salary cap.

The Sharks also need to improve their fourth line, which was in constant flux throughout the 2018-19 campaign. San Jose has yet to sign Gambrell -- a restricted free-agent -- who could compete for the job of fourth-line center following a productive showing in 2018-19. As much as DeBoer likes having Karlsson in his lineup, he might be on the way out before the summer is over.

Aaron Dell, Goaltender

The backup netminder's name has been floated around as a potential trade piece for a good chunk of the offseason. Moving Dell would, in fact, make sense for the Sharks, given he only has one year remaining on his current contract which carries a $1.9 million cap hit. If the 30-year-old goaltender departed, it would clear the way for one of the San Jose Barracuda's promising goalies to have the opportunity to back up Martin Jones.

The only problem here, as you probably already figured out, is that Dell's numbers last season weren't very good. Much like Jones, Dell's performance took a dip in the 2018-19 regular season and he ended with a 3.17 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

For the Sharks to successfully trade Dell, they'll probably have to offer something else to sweeten the deal.

[RELATED: How Pavelski's exit opens the door for Meier, young Sharks]

Brenden Dillon, Defenseman

Of all the Sharks that have been connected to trade rumors this summer, this one actually seems like the least likely. If San Jose needs to free up as much space as possible, it might prove necessary.

Sure, it makes sense from a money standpoint. Dillon is entering the final year of his contract, which carries a $3.27 million cap hit. But getting rid of the 28-year-old blueliner who led the team in plus-minus last season would leave a gigantic hole in San Jose's d-corps that would be very difficult to fill. Just look at how effective Dillon was playing alongside Erik Karlsson last season.

Plus, it would leave San Jose without a left-handed defenseman. While the team is grooming Jacob Middleton to play a bigger role at the NHL level next season, he probably isn't ready to take on that much playing time.

Despite being linked to rumors this offseason, trading Dillon carries the biggest risk.

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