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Patrick Marleau faces questions about his San Jose future

The San Jose Sharks will return next season with most of their current roster that was defeated in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final by the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

All of their core players are signed through 2016-17. Their only major contract question involves how big a raise the team will give pending restricted free agent Tomas Hertl, who is coming off his entry-level contract.

On the surface everything looks fine for the Sharks to take another run at the Stanley Cup with much of the same group that pushed the Penguins in the playoffs. 

But there is one question about San Jose that has lingered since early November. Does longtime Shark Patrick Marleau want a trade elsewhere?

According to CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, Marleau – who has one year remaining on his deal at $6.66 million and a no-trade clause – was asked if he wants to remain a Shark.

"Yeah, I have a contract for next year, so looking forward to it,” Marleau said.

In November CSN Bay Area reported Marleau would accept a trade to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings or New York Rangers. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had also reported Marleau’s name was “out there” as far as trade talk earlier in November. 

Then once the Sharks turned a corner and started winning more games in January, trade talk around Marleau lessened.

This season his role had changed from scoring winger to third-line center. Originally this was done to accommodate various injuries to Logan Couture. But Marleau at center stabilized the Sharks’ lower lines and gave them depth up and down their lineup.

From Jan. 1 first on with Marleau mostly at center, the Sharks took off, going 28-14-4.

Even though the Sharks had team success, Marleau seemed to struggle scoring-wise at even strength at center. He scored just three goals and added three assists 5-on-5 in 46 games after Jan. 1. He had six goals and six assists on the power play in that stretch.

His score-adjusted CF% was 53.0 but his CF% rel was a minus-1.1 according to War on Ice.

In 2014-15, 42.1 percent of his points came on the power play. This past season 52.1 percent of his points came with the man-advantage.

His 48 points were his lowest full-season total in 2007-08 and his minus-22 rating was the worst of his NHL career.

San Jose shifted Marleau back to wing on Couture’s line for Game 5 against the Nashville Predators in the second-round, and he stayed there the rest of the playoffs.

The Sharks won Games 5 and 7 of that series and then ousted the St. Louis Blues in six games the next round.

Still, this led to question on whether coach Peter DeBoer made this move in part to placate his aging star in order to salvage a frayed relationship.

Said DeBoer on an off day before Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, "You balance 'are you better as a team,' and 'is the individual better?' That's the balance. I'm not here to make Patrick Marleau feel good. We're here to win games, and we're going to put him wherever we feel we have to to win games.”

Before the season the Sharks announced their leadership structure and it didn’t include Marleau as an alternate captain, a designation he had previously held. Marleau, who was the Sharks’ first-round draft pick in 1997, was the team’s captain from 2004-09 before it was given to Rob Blake.

Essentially twice in his San Jose career Marleau had seen a letter removed from his jersey. 

Marleau was often asked by reporters during the playoff run about his feelings toward the team, and he deftly sidestepped all questions.  

“I'm happy where I'm at right now and things are going good,” he said on an off day before Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

If Marleau indeed wants a trade, he’ll likely have to expand upon his list of teams. The Sharks firmly re-established themselves as a Pacific Division power this year and a deal to the rival Kings or Ducks would be unlikely.

The Rangers would probably be wary about an aging one-year rent-a-player after Eric Staal fizzled in New York.

If Marleau was unhappy maybe the deep run for the Sharks changed his mind about the organization. The Sharks have one of the deepest groups in the Western Conference and one more year with this team, before being able to choose his next destination as an unrestricted free agent next summer, isn’t a bad option. 

After the Sharks lost Game 6, Marleau didn’t sound like a player who wanted out. Even with some of the drama that swirled around him during the year he was still all in and feeling the pain of falling short of his Stanley Cup goal.

"You never know when it's going to happen again," Marleau said according to the San Jose Mercury News. "It definitely helps knowing that you've done it once before, and you can find that special group and put in the right work and have the right guys and timing, it can happen again."

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