Quantifying Sharks' loss of Marleau


Quantifying Sharks' loss of Marleau

When Patrick Marleau played his first game against the San Jose Sharks, his absence was readily apparent. He wore another uniform, for one, and San Jose entered the first reunion with the league’s seventh-fewest goals, waiting on young players like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier to break out. 

Labanc is now fourth on the team in assists, and Meier’s scored four goals in his last eight games, but the Sharks have now scored the fourth-fewest goals in the NHL, and the seventh-fewest goals per game. They’ve also scored the fewest five-on-five goals. 

Marleau, meanwhile, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in Toronto. A season after scoring 27 goals, the 38-year-old has 15 goals through 41 games, putting him on pace for exactly 30. That would tie with Logan Couture for the Sharks lead, and Marleau’s 11 five-on-five goals are four more than any San Jose player. 

So yes, ahead of Thursday’s rematch with the Maple Leafs, the Sharks still miss Marleau. But would he have been able to do the same in San Jose? 

Given Toronto’s reputation as a high-flying, high-scoring squad, it’s easy to attribute Marleau’s production to a ‘Babcock bump.’ After all, Marleau is generating shots in five-on-five situations at a higher rate (9.65 shots per 60 minutes, according to Corsica Hockey) than any season since 2007-08. 

Yet the Maple Leafs aren’t as high-flying as you might think. They score like gangbusters, yes, but they’re only 21st in the league in shots per game across all situations (30.68), 19th in five-on-five shot rate (29.65 per 60 minutes), and 12th in five-on-five shot attempt rate (49.23 per 60).

The Sharks are 11th, 13th, and fifth in those respective categories. 

It’s not like Marleau’s riding shotgun with Auston Matthews, either. His most common linemates in the Six are Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri, when he spent most of his five-on-five time alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. 

With all of that context in mind, it certainly seems possible Marleau could have enjoyed a similar late-career renaissance with the Sharks. It wouldn’t have necessarily had to come at the extent of San Jose’s young players, either. 

Part of the reason general manager Doug Wilson felt comfortable letting Marleau walk was confidence in Labanc, Meier, Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl, and Chris Tierney. All but Donskoi are averaging at least half-a-minute more in ice time, and all five have made significant progress in their development. 

Marleau’s resurgence and the young players’ development aren’t mutually exclusive. One of those players would have been bumped from a power play unit, but Marleau’s presence among the top nine forwards didn’t have to mean the demotion of one to the minors or the fourth line, especially if Hertl moved to the wing. 

There are also 18.75 million reasons, or 6.25 million annually over three years, why the Sharks couldn’t keep Marleau. They would not have enjoyed the salary cap space they have now. 

Because of that flexibility, the Sharks are considered a potential player at the trade deadline, and were even linked to Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane in a report from The Athletic on Thursday. By letting a scoring winger walk this summer, the Sharks will now have enough cap space in February to acquire...another scoring winger. 

There’s no guarantee Marleau would have enjoyed the same success this season in San Jose as he is in Toronto, but it certainly appears possible. The salary cap concerns may ultimately make walking away the right decision, but for this season at least, it doesn’t appear that way. 

Assessing how Sharks' two trades impact the rest of their offseason plans


Assessing how Sharks' two trades impact the rest of their offseason plans

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson got an early start to his morning on Tuesday, making a pair of deals before most of the team's fans had woken up. 

To recap: San Jose acquired winger Mike Hoffman, a pick, and a prospect from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a package centered around struggling forward Mikkel Boedker. Ottawa announced that deal at 4:58 a.m. PT.  The Sharks then flipped Hoffman and a pick to the Florida Panthers for a trio of draft selections, a trade that Florida officially announced at 7:17 a.m. PT. 

Here's what each team acquired after the dust settled:

Sharks get:

  • Defenseman Cody Donaghey (from Senators)
  • 2020 fifth-round pick (from Senators)
  • 2018 fourth-round pick (from Panthers)
  • 2018 fifth-round pick (from Panthers)
  • 2019 second-round pick (from Panthers)

Senators get (from Sharks):

  • Forward Mikkel Boedker
  • Defenseman Julis Bergman
  • 2020 sixth-round pick

Panthers get (from Sharks):

  • Forward Mike Hoffman
  • 2018 seventh-round pick 

So what does it all mean for the Sharks? Perhaps most importantly, trading Boedker's contract, who was just seeming to find his place in the lineup down the stretch this season after signing a four-year deal with the team two summers ago, clears an additional $4 million in salary cap space over the next two seasons (and $6 million in total salary).  With the cap set to rise to between $78 million and $82 million, San Jose would (as of now) have between $14.5 million and $18.5 million in cap space, and that's before considering the possibility that the team buys out Paul Martin's contract. 

Even if no other moves are made, the Sharks are in position to make a splash in free agency. According to The Sporting News' Evan Sporer, their maneuvering is designed to chase not one, but two of the biggest free-agent fish this summer. 

In his statement announcing the trades, Wilson said the deals "free up a substantial amount of cap space for internal and external player options in the coming months," and re-stocked on draft picks. It was a tidy bit of trading, as San Jose improved upon each of the selections it traded away, and now has seven picks in this year's draft after entering the day with just five. 

He also said that the deal opens a spot for the young forwards in the organization to challenge for ice time. Wilson specifically mentioned Kevin Labanc (who actually averaged more ice time than Boedker this season), playoff hero Marcus Sorensen, newly-signed European free agents Antti Suomela and Vincent Praplan, as well as rookies Dylan Gambrell and Max Letunov. 

Meanwhile, Hoffman joined Theo Fleury and Mark Messier in the "Sharks For A Few Hours" club, and has a new home following accusations that his girlfriend, Monica Caryk, harassed a teammate's wife. Last week, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Melinda Karlsson, wife of Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, had filed for an order of protection against Hoffman's girlfriend and accused her of an online harassment campaign throughout the season.

As a result, Hoffman's trade value plummeted from where it was at the trade deadline, according to ESPN's  Greg Wyshynski.

Pierre LeBrun told TSN that the trade was not a three-way deal, as the Sharks and Senators reportedly did not communicate about the subsequent trade with the Panthers. Wilson's no stranger to creatively facilitating some of the offseason's biggest deals, however. He acquired a pair of players and a pick from the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010 so Atlanta could acquire Dustin Byfuglien from then-Stanley Cup champions Chicago, and  he also acquired goaltender Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins three years ago just days after the Los Angeles Kings shipped him (and a first-round pick) up to Boston for Milan Lucic.

In series of deals, Sharks trade Boedker, acquire four draft picks


In series of deals, Sharks trade Boedker, acquire four draft picks

While you were sleeping, the Sharks were busy making moves.

At 4:58am PT, the Ottawa Senators announced that they had acquired forward Mikkel Boedker, defenseman Julius Bergman and the Sharks' 2020 sixth round pick for forward Mike Hoffman, Ottawa's 2020 fifth round pick and defenseman Cody Donaghey.

Hoffman played in all 82 games this season and finished with 22 goals and 34 assists. But before he could even be fitted for a Sharks jersey, San Jose flipped Hoffman to the Florida Panthers along with their 2018 seventh round pick for Florida's 2019 second round pick, a 2018 fourth round pick (previously owned by Vegas) and Florida's 2018 fifth round pick.

By trading Boedker, the Sharks cleared $4 million in salary cap space.