Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Barclay Goodrow, Mirco Mueller and Ben Smith make appearances in this week’s Sharks mailbag…
Think Hertl stays on the top line for the foreseeable future? Karlsson seems to have regressed. (Ben Yelin @byelin)
I suppose it depends on how you define “foreseeable future,” but I think it’s a good idea for him to stay there for the next few games at least. Hertl strikes me as a guy that plays well when his confidence is high, like we saw when he burst onto the scene in 2013, but struggles to get out of scoring slumps. When I spoke with him the day before the Maple Leafs game, the glumness in his voice regarding his numbers so far was palpable. Conversely, his gigantic smile was back immediately after his three-point night against Toronto.
The long-term plan is obviously to get him in the middle, but just like Todd McLellan before him, I sense that Pete DeBoer doesn’t feel that Hertl is quite ready to play that position just yet. Compete level on a game-to-game basis is still a concern.
The team can continue to keep Patrick Marleau in the middle of the second line while Logan Couture works his way back to 100 percent as the third line center. Perhaps when Couture looks right, the Sharks could again try putting Hertl back in the middle on the third line if he gets his confidence back.
As for Karlsson, he’s always struck me as a guy that would be a good fourth liner and perhaps take advantage of some mismatches. His legs and his compete level are typically high, but he just hasn’t buried his ample amount of scoring chances.
Do you see Goodrow being back with the big club anytime soon? (Jack Merridew @Maroon_1001)
That will depend on the team’s injury situation. They’re remarkably healthy right now, considering it’s the middle of January and only Dainius Zubrus is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Goodrow deserves credit for finding his game at the AHL level, and earned his All-Star selection with 13 goals and 19 points in 22 games. From what I understand there was an adjustment period for him down there after he inexplicably spent almost all of last season and the start of this year in San Jose, but that’s probably only natural. Maybe it’s time to give him another look if the depth scoring that the Sharks found against Toronto dries up again.
Since we’re on the Barracuda, it’s worth mentioning that from what I’ve heard, Mirco Mueller – another player I’d term as inexplicably on the NHL roster last season and the start of this one – is still struggling to find his consistency. The Sharks remain perilously thin on defense past their top five, including Brenden Dillon, and a significant injury to any of their veterans on the blue line could spell doom.
What's up with [Ben] Smith? Still injured or in the doghouse? (Jon @Yagermouse)
It’s safe to say at this point that the coaching staff just isn’t very high on Ben Smith, and hasn’t been since the start. He never really found himself on a regular line in training camp, and even when the Sharks were struggling recently with killing penalties – a supposed specialty of Smith – he still sat. In the six games he’s played, Smith has skated fewer than five minutes in half of them.
If the Sharks want to activate Raffi Torres, they’re going to need to make a roster move to fit him on the 23-man roster. At this point, Smith is probably the most likely guy to either get dealt or waived.