By all accounts, Patrick Marleau had a horrible season last year for the San Jose Sharks, themselves a team that endured a horrible season. While general manager Doug Wilson has made a number of offseason moves that have upgraded the roster, for the Sharks to turn it around and get back into playoff contention, they’ll need Marleau to improve his game.
So, was Marleau’s 2014-15 season an aberration, or is the 35-year old veteran of 17 NHL seasons slowing done?
The answer, of course, is probably a little of both.
Last season, Marleau played in all 82 regular season games, scoring 19 goals and 57 total points, and posting the worst plus/minus on the team at minus-17. It was a tremendous drop in production from a player who scored 33 goals the year before and posted a zero on the plus/minus, and that in a year where he was a valuable contributor to gold-medal winning Team Canada in the Soichi Winter Olympics.
While some observers felt Marleau showed signs of slowing down in third periods of games last year, his 19:39 of average time on ice was on the low side of his career averages. Where he really struggled was on scoring. He got off 233 shots, but he only converted at an 8.2 percent rate, by far the lowest rate of his careet, and that’s where the Sharks are hopeful Marleau will show improvement.
For argument’s sake, an assumption can be made that Marleau’s 2014-15 season was a statistical anomaly, and that the law of averages presume that his shooting percentage will rise up into his historical range of 10.3 to 17.4 percent.
Keep in mind that Marleau scored 33 goals two seasons ago. If Marleau had converted last year at his average NHL shooting percentage of 14 percent over his first 16 seasons in the league, he would have scored 32 goals, an improvement of 13.
The Sharks are hoping Marleau gets a bit of the “puck luck” that he missed out on last year. If his scoring touch returns, the Sharks will improve. Whether that improvement is good enough – or if Marleau’s rebound occurs – remains to be seen.
Photo Credit: Don Smith/Getty Images
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