Since I’m under the impression that the average attention span for a web post is about 500 words, and this one checks in at about 1200, let’s get right to it…
1 – Joe Pavelski said on Tuesday morning that he was unaware of a tweet from Sportsnet.ca’s Damien Cox on Monday that the “expectations [are] growing” he’ll be named as Sharks captain at some point this season.
While there may or may not be an internal timeline as to the naming of the next captain, there’s little doubt at this point that it will be Pavelski, based on some conversations I’ve had.
Internally, the former seventh round draft pick is viewed as the guy that it wants younger up-and-coming players like Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Mirco Mueller and others to view as a role model. It could happen soon, or it could happen months from now depending on how the team performs, but the next time a Sharks player ends up getting a ‘C’ on his sweater you can just about count on it being the 30-year-old Wisconsin native.
2 – Forward depth was a concern for the Sharks entering the season, and it remains that way after 30 games. Just look at the third line – the Sharks have started 14 different combinations there, or nearly one for every two games they’ve played.
[RELATED: Injuries keeping Sharks' third line in flux]
That’s partly due to injuries, and partly to the organization’s commitment to integrate young players into the lineup. Something the Sharks won’t do is trade a young asset or draft pick for an older rental player to plug in on the bottom six. The message that management wants to continue to convey to its own players and prospects is that jobs are up for grabs and will be filled internally.
3 – When the Flyers’ Vincent Lecavalier, 34, was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career last Tuesday against the Sharks, I couldn’t help but compare him with 35-year-old Joe Thornton and what the Sharks center is continuing to do today.
In 2006-07, Thornton finished second in the league with 114 points, while Lecavalier was third with 108. Last season, the former Sharks captain finished second in the NHL with 65 assists (and 13th in the NHL in scoring), while Lecavalier had 37 points in 67 games, and has continued to decline this season – previous injuries probably taking a toll, of course, while Thornton has remained generally healthy.
Hard to believe, too, that Lecavalier, who has six points in 16 games, is actually signed through 2017-18 – one year longer than the three-year extension Thornton signed last season.
4 – One number that sticks out regarding Mirco Mueller is that the 19-year-old has taken four minor penalties – only two of which have left his team shorthanded. Considering Mueller has played 23 games, is averaging more than 17 minutes of ice time per night, including many games paired with a defensively inconsistent Brent Burns, that’s impressive.
5 – It was so simple. The Sharks needed to make one request in regards to their Stadium Series sweater – a throwback to the lighter teal shade from their original jerseys from the early 90’s, perhaps with the old logo or some sort of added modern touch.
Instead, we're apparently getting this, although the team or NHL has yet to confirm anything.
How cool would it have been to seen guys like Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels and Tomas Hertl rocking an old school sweater against the Kings at Levi’s Stadium in February? Major blown opportunity, in my opinion.
6 – I remember early in my first year here (2011-12) having a conversation about Tommy Wingels with a mutual friend of ours, who currently works at the NHL and has known Wingels for some time. I remember him texting me saying that Wingels was “the future captain of the Sharks.”
At the time I scoffed a bit since Wingels had played just five NHL games at that point, but he may have been on to something. It’s very easy to see why Todd McLellan routinely mentions Wingels as one of the team’s catalysts and young leaders. Future captain? It’s not difficult to see that at some point down the line.
7 – No, Matt Nieto did not write the “Holiday Sweater” video that took over the internet on Monday. It was penned by a small group of Sharks staffers.
As for who took part in the video – it was an open invitation to anyone on the roster. I was told Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Patrick Marleau really wanted to join, but the Sharks’ hectic road schedule meant that many guys understandably chose to spend their off-time with their families.
8 – I figured Matt Tennyson would get a longer look here than just one game. Against Calgary on Nov. 26, I thought he looked good in his more than 20 minutes of ice time, and it’s still probably preferable to have a right-handed shot (like Tennyson) paired with a lefty like Mueller as the team’s third defense pair.
9 – Speaking of call-ups, some seemed surprised that Melker Karlsson got recalled on Monday ahead of Chris Tierney, who has 10 points (1g, 9a) in 12 AHL games since he was reassigned. My guess would be that the Sharks want to avoid shuffling the 20-year-old Tierney back and forth too much, and would rather he spends his time focused on getting better in Worcester.
Karlsson is four years older than Tierney, too, and in years past the Sharks have tended to like players that are a little more advanced in age when they are inexperienced. "Melky" had some strong shifts against the Oilers on Tuesday, too, particularly in helping generate Barclay Goodrow's first NHL goal in the first period.
10 – Finally, a quick personal note on advanced stats.
For some reason, it's been suggested to me that because I feel a guy like Mike Brown plays a valuable role on the Sharks, that I’m somehow anti-advanced stats. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and I even referenced them previously in this space a couple weeks ago.
I know Brown’s Corsi rating, and a few other stats suggest that he’s not the most skilled guy in the league, to which I’d reply – no kidding. He wasn’t signed for his skill. He was signed because he brings a tough, gritty game to the fourth line and because his teammates like having him in the dressing room and on the bench. Prior to Brown returning on Nov. 29 vs. Anaheim, the biggest thing the Sharks were missing in losses to teams like Buffalo, Florida and Columbus is exactly what Brown brings. When Joe Pavelski called him “shot in the arm” in the Sharks’ comeback win over the Flyers last Tuesday, he’s not lying, folks.
A growing trend that I can’t seem to comprehend either is when I hear certain words like “grit,” “leadership” and “energy” used as punch lines, implying that none of those intangibles exist in the NHL game. Any player, coach or manager – and I mean that quite literally, any of them – would tell you that those traits are paramount to a team’s success, and are valued in players. Ask around. Really.
Are advanced stats a valuable tool? They can be, sure. But judging a guy like Brown solely on advanced or traditional stats is ignorant.