Patrick Marleau said he would like to return to the San Jose Sharks.
"Yeah, it would be nice to come back here and play where I started," Marleau told The Athletic in remarks published Friday. "It would be a good fit for me for sure.''
The 39-year-old forward also told the website he would continue his NHL career if he isn't able to sign with San Jose, where he played his first 19 NHL seasons, but would prefer a Western Conference team to be closer to his family in California.
"I'm definitely not ready to retire, I think I've got some really good hockey left in me," he said. "I couldn't give you an exact number of years, but it's going to be more than one, I know that.''
[RELATED: Marleau contract bought out by Hurricanes]
Marleau became an unrestricted free agent when his contract was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Marleau to Carolina on June 22 with a conditional first-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft for a sixth-round pick in 2020.
"Nothing at all against [the Hurricanes], they were great during the whole thing, very thankful for how they helped and how they handled things,'' Marleau said.
Pat Brisson, Marleau's agent, told The Athletic he is willing to wait while San Jose works through its offseason. Captain Joe Pavelski and forward Joe Thornton each can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc each can become a restricted free agent. Defenseman Erik Karlsson signed an eight-year contract to stay with San Jose on June 17.
The Athletic reported Friday that Pavelski was likely to sign elsewhere.
"It might take a bit longer, I'm not sure," Marleau said. "I know they have some things that they're juggling around. We'll see how it goes.''
Marleau was entering the last season of a three-year, $18.75 million contract (average annual value of $6.25 million) he signed with Toronto on July 2, 2017.
Marleau, who was selected by the Sharks with the No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, is San Jose's leader in games played (1,493), goals (508) and points (1,082). He has played 788 consecutive games, including this season, when he had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists).
Marleau has 1,166 points (551 goals, 615 assists) in 21 NHL seasons and 127 points (72 goals, 55 assists) in 191 Stanley Cup Playoff games.