2011-12 San Jose Sharks: Ryane Clowe Report Card

MJ KasprzakSenior Writer IIJune 3, 2012

2011-12 San Jose Sharks: Ryane Clowe Report Card

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    The first season Ryane Clowe was healthy and good enough to play in at least 60 games was 2008-09. The San Jose Sharks won the President's Trophy that season, and with 22 goals and 30 assists in 71 games, Clowe looked like a big piece of the team's future moving forward.

    Now the Sharks seem headed in the wrong direction, and general manager Doug Wilson has to know they need a fundamental shift. Clowe may well be the player least most to be moved to make that happen.

    For one thing, he is in the last year of a contract with a cap hit of $3,625,000, so his future with the team is unknown. At 29, he is young enough to be part of a team's future and veteran enough to help a team looking to win right now (like the Sharks, perhaps?).

    But should San Jose really decide that Clowe is expendable? Any good, objective analysis has to be cold-blooded, so we should determine his value by looking at the good, bad and ugly truth about Clowe...

The Good

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    One of the chief ways Doug Wilson may want to change the San Jose Sharks is one of the things Ryane Clowe does very well.

    The top three forwards registered a total of 134 hits even though the only one to miss any time was out just two games. The reason Joe Pavelski was not a finalist for the Selke Trophy with his 50 hits (eight more than Thornton and Couture) was that David Backes had more hits (226) than five of the Sharks' top six forwards combined.

    Patrick Marleau had a respectable 84 hits, but could not be considered a physical player. With 109 hits and 97 penalty minutes in 76 games, Clowe is that player.

    He is also one of the few Sharks who will stand up for a teammate beyond a scrum. On a team that has its passion questioned regularly, he can and has played the role of a fiery leader.

    And of course he scores. Other than his first campaign of 18 games and a season cut short to 15, he has scored 30 points. He has averaged over 20 goals and 30 assists in each of his last four seasons, and played at least 71 games.

The Bad

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    Ryane Clowe may be a fiery leader, but he has also been known to take the dumb penalty that leaders avoid—especially on a team with a terrible penalty kill.

    He also is coming off a down year. With 17 goals (two game winners), 28 assists and a minus-seven rating, he was more likely not to score a point (42 games without) than to score at least one (34).

    And much like his tenacity has consequences in the penalty box, his points are more costly than for most of the other top-six forwards. He committed 55 giveaways, third most among Sharks forwards, and his resulting offensive quotient (defined at the provided link) is just 33.5.

    Moreover, he is pretty average outside of his hitting on the defensive end. His defensive quotient (also defined at the above link) was just 32.01, last among players averaging at least 15 minutes of ice time.

    This is largely because his number of blocked shots (36) and takeaways (42) were fifth and his minutes sixth. While he has worked on his skating, he remains average at best in that quality the Sharks covet more than his physicality.

    He also has had trouble staying healthy. While playing in at least 71 games in each of the past four seasons, he has always missed at least six. In his three prior seasons, he never played more than 58 games.

The Ugly Truth

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    Obviously, there is no position on a team you do not want to upgrade. It is all about the cost.

    The reality is the San Jose Sharks could replace Ryane Clowe. There are five forwards looking at free agency this summer who are both younger and score more than Clowe. They will be able to afford at least one of them if they trade Clowe.

    They just want to make sure the players they grab have grit, because losing Clowe will create a void.