Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year contract

Joel Ward is now a member of the San Jose Sharks. (USATSI)
Joel Ward is now a member of the San Jose Sharks. (USATSI)

The San Jose Sharks landed one of the better unrestricted free agents still on the market by signing veteran winger Joel Ward to a three-year contract.

Ward, who spent the last three seasons with the Washington Capitals, had reportedly been seeking a four-year deal. However at 34 years old, the Sharks did well to shave off a little on the term for Ward. Additionally, the deal comes with a reasonable $3.275 million AAV according to SiriusXM NHL Network.

"Joel is a quality veteran player who can score but also plays an extremely hard-nosed brand of hockey," said general manager Doug Wilson in a statement. "He meshes well with our core group of forwards and has a strong track record of playing his best hockey at crucial times of the season."

The veteran forward is coming off of two of the best seasons of his career, in fact. Last year, Ward posted 19 goals and 34 points to follow up a career year in 2013-14 in which he registered 24 goals and 49 points. His production from last season is probably more in line with what the Sharks can reasonably expect from him over these next few years, depending on the role he's given.

As Wilson notes, Ward has been a pretty solid postseason performer over his career. He had nine points in 14 games just last season as the Capitals advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before falling to the New York Rangers. He has 35 points in 53 career postseason games.

Over his eight-season career, Ward has 220 points in 517 NHL games.

Coming off of a season in which they missed the playoffs entirely, the Sharks will be hoping to bounce back under new head coach Peter DeBoer. They went out and got young goaltender Martin Jones to take over the No. 1 job, signed veteran defenseman Paul Martin and now bring in Ward for more experience and to fill perhaps a top-six or at least top-nine role up front.

It appears that any notion of Doug Wilson’s “rebuild on the fly” that he mentioned last offseason has been abandoned.  The Sharks certainly aren’t getting any younger, aside from bringing Jones in, but they probably have a shot at being better next season than they were in the disappointing and seemingly dysfunctional 2014-15 campaign.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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