Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is Patrick Sharp the right guy for the Leafs?

he certainly wouldn't make a bad-looking Leaf

Chicago's cap situation has got the vultures circling, and there's been a lot of press and talk about Patrick Sharp and his 3.9 million dollar contract being the magical salve that the franchise needs.

First off, it's been reported many times that including the bonus cushion it's entirely possible for Chicago to ice a competitive team and remain under the cap without trading anyone except Brent Sopel. If Chicago doesn't see a deal they like, they aren't actually under a whole lot of pressure to pull the trigger.

The excellent Leaf dudes at MLHS have been throwing around ideas for what exactly that might entail, knowing full well that whatever we give up must be low in salary in order to make the deal work. Picks, and prospects like Tlusty or Stefanovich, are being thrown around as ideas.


But let's just get some things straight here. Sharp is not really a "young gun" unless you're also willing to call Ponikarovsky a young gun, as they're only a year apart and Sharp will be 28 this December. Sharpy's entering the prime of his career, and what we've seen is likely all we're going to get from the guy.

Sharp has never been a PPG player in the AHL. He'd never scored 20 goals until his 4th season in the NHL, his second with Chicago who got him for a song (Matt Ellison, currently of the KHL's Dynamo Riga, and a 3rd rounder). He'd also never scored more than 35 points until he was 26, when it just so happened that some true young phenoms in the form of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane showed up on his team.

In true keeping with the easy, unscientific research that I've been doing over the past little while, I looked back into Sharp's past game logs and counted the times he'd factored in on a scoring play (either with a goal or assist) alongside either of Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews.

62 points
32 with Kane/Toews, 51.6% of total production

44 points
23 with Kane/Toews, 52.2% of total production

So what we have here is a slow-developing scoring winger who just happened to hit his prime at the same time that two young franchise players come into town, who have figured into half of his total production in the past two years.

(it's worth noting that Sharp missed a significant portion of the 2008/2009 season, extrapolated to 82 games he'd net around 55 points, lower than the previous year. It's also worth noting that Sharp's shooting percentage was .172 in his 36 goal campaign, higher than the league norm and his highest ever. As his percentage levelled off last year, so did his estimated production)

As I said in my last post, I don't think goal scoring will be as big a problem as some are implying next season, but the fact remains that we lack top 6 players. However, Sharp had never produced like one until his team suddenly had a dearth of offensive talent, and I'm not even counting Martin Havlat or Robert Lang yet.


Don't get me wrong, Sharp's a talented individual and were he to be a Leaf I'm sure he'd put up some points. But I don't think the fears among the fan base that he's more of a complimentary player than a game-breaker are unfounded, and I'm not sure that we need a 50-60 point player as bad as some think. In my mind 50-60 points is about right for what a player getting good minutes and PP time should have, it's not an exceptional total.

I wouldn't mind having Sharp on this team, but it's hard for me to come up with any good ways to think about it. Just Exelby for Sharp? Nah. Give up Stajan or Koolie? Both of them are either par for or out-producing Sharp at their age.

And why would we ever considering trading Tlusty (who is a PPG player in the AHL) with his age and potential, or Stefonovich and his near limitless offensive possibility? Doesn't trading anybody younger than Sharp with a smaller cap hit seem counter-productive for a rebuilding team? And with a pick? Especially as Sharp doesn't solve our needs at centre (he took fewer faceoffs than Stajan, Grabs, Moore, and Mitchell last year).

No, the only way this trade makes sense for Toronto is if we can do it for defensemen only, and if we don't have to give up any young guys with potential. And I have an extremely hard time seeing Chicago bite on Ian White.

And let's be honest, late bloomer, shortly removed from a close to 40 goal season, 4 million dollar contract, complimentary scoring forward. You all know what I'm thinking.

get ready for the fist pump!


kidkawartha said...

But Koopa, I have it on good authority that Mr. Fist Pump is going to hit 40 goals again, either the coming season, or the next. Maybe 2012/13. The voices in my head can't make up my mind.
I do love Blakie, and have been secretly rooting for him ever since he signed, but, given your very insightful post, why would we want another one of him? Unless we get him next to nothing, that is.

Scott Baker said...

Honestly I want Blake to succeed too, it's hard to argue with a story like is and while, by all accounts, he's kind of a sour dick most of the time it's hard to argue that he still absolutely loves to score. But it's a good question, why would we want two?

The short answer is we wouldn't, Sharp isn't the answer to any of our problems and we could pay 1 million more to get a better player in Tanguay if we really wanted a scoring forward.

If we're looking 3-4 years into the future when Blake's gone Sharp could be a great compliment to our core, but the fact is we don't have that core yet and there's no reason to consider trading away people that might have a real part to play in our future.

eyebleaf said...

Blake is great, and is paid accordingly. I'll take another of him, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

I think that they want to add experience to the team that why they choose someone like him. In some cases experiences does the difference.

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