Sharks splash into free agency pool

The San Jose Sharks are living up to their name when it comes to this year’s free agency, signing two of the top veterans on the market this week.

On Wednesday, they signed a four-year deal with defenseman Paul Martin, and on Friday, they announced a three-year contract with forward Joel Ward.

Per reports, Martin’s deal is worth $19.4 million, while Ward will make $9.75 million.

Both are 34 years old, and both will provide the Sharks with an immediate boost.

Martin, a 10-year veteran, spent the last five years with the Pittsburgh Penguins and is solid defensively. While he has never been a top offensive producer, Martin is capable of moving the puck and playing at a fast pace. He is also a classy guy, as evidenced by a long letter he penned thanking the city of Pittsburgh.

Said GM Doug Wilson in a press release:

“Paul is versatile, puck-moving veteran who enhances our younger group of talented defensemen. He comes from a winning environment, is capable of playing heavy minutes and is accustomed to playing with high-end players. He was a player that we had targeted and this is a place that Paul wanted to come play.”

Ward will bring grit and much-needed depth to the Sharks’ forward lines. Arguably his best offensive seasons have come in the last two years, when he recorded 49 and 34 points for the Capitals. Also noteworthy is his postseason prowess — Ward has 14 goals and 21 assists in 53 playoff games — something the Sharks would surely welcome.

He is also an epitome of the style that newly-hired head coach Peter DeBoer wants to play:

“Joel is an identity player in that he plays exactly the way I want our team to play. He’s big, strong, fast and hard to play against.  That’s exactly what we are looking for.”

San Jose already made a major acquisition on Tuesday by trading for goaltender Martin Jones and signing him to a three-year, $9 million deal.

If nothing else, it is apparent the Sharks are expediting their rebuild and planning to return to their winning ways immediately.