It's beginning to look more and more likely that Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks once the NHL free agency dust settles. But what does the 39-year-old winger have left in the tank?
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded the ex-Shark to the Carolina Hurricanes last week in an obvious salary dump. The Hurricanes since have waived Marleau, making him an unrestricted free agent.
While Marleau has made his desire to rejoin the Sharks known, he will survey all of his options once free agency opens Monday at 9 a.m. PT.
With Joe Pavelski's return to San Jose in doubt, though, it's more probable that Marleau will come back, as the Sharks would need a third-line winger. But there's one question all Sharks fans will want answered: Can Marleau still be a contributor?
Marleau scored 16 goals and notched 37 points in 82 games for the Leafs last season, and while he might not be what he once was, he still can help.
"He was fine, still contributes, still want more from him from a passion standpoint, but he is what he is," an NHL scout told The Athletic's Kevin Kurz. "Still a good two-way player that can skate and thinks the game better than a lot of players.
"He is probably, for me, more of a second- or third-line guy, but doesn't look out is place in a top-six role."
NHL Network's Mike Johnson isn't as high on Marleau.
"Isn't what it once was," Johnson told Kurz. "His top speed is OK, it just takes him longer to get there. He's still fast, but not as quick."
NBC's Keith Jones, however, believes the 39-year-old still can be a factor.
"[He] looked like he could still keep up," Jones told Kurz in a text message. "Lots of young guys ahead of him in Toronto. Still a reliable player."
If the Sharks lose Pavelski and/or Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist in free agency, a Marleau return seems probable. And while he's not the scorer he once was, it looks like he still has a little left to give.