Holding an average age of 28.292, the Sharks are the 27th youngest team in the league. Or in simpler terms, there are only three teams with an older average age in the NHL.
One of the ways they can do that is by trading 33-year-old enforcer Jody Shelley in favor of playing 22-year-old rookie Frazer McLaren.
McLaren, who was playing quite an impressive brand of hockey before being reassigned to Worcester of the AHL, has all the tools to be an enforcer. But unlike Shelley, he has a much better all around game.
Appearing in 23 games this season, McLaren has registered six points (one goal, five assists) and a plus-six plus/minus rating, with seven major penalties for fighting.
Shelley, meanwhile, has played in 21 games this season registering three points (zero goals, three assists) and a plus-two plus/minus rating, with seven major penalties for fighting.
Since coming to San Jose midway through the 2007-08 season, Shelley has tallied just 14 points in 152 games with a plus/minus of minus-6.
McLaren, on on the other hand, is on pace for 21 points in his rookie year if he were to play an entire 82-game schedule and, like mentioned above, he has a plus/minus of plus-six.
Both of these fourth line players weigh in at 225 pounds, with McLaren at 6'4" and Shelley at 6' 3". McLaren can more than hold his own against any of the heavyweight opponents that Shelley is known to drop the gloves against, and he actually has a solid all around game.
In his first 23 games, Mclaren has helped his team out by taking just two minor penalties. However, Shelley has taken seven minor penalties in his 21 games this season.
When you add the extra scoring punch and disciplined play from the young forward, it is clear that McLaren brings more to the table in almost every facet of the game.
At just 22, McLaren is better in his own zone, better at cycling down low in the offensive zone, and faster on the forecheck. Combine that with a physical presence matching that of Shelley's, and the young rookie ought to take on his predecessor's role in its entirety.
Not only can McLaren take on the regular season enforcer role, but his all around talent will enable him to be in the lineup more often than not in the playoffs.
Instead of having an enforcer like Shelley who played in just seven of the Sharks' 19 playoff games the last two seasons, the Sharks will have a fourth line player who has the talent to make a difference in the playoffs.
Hopefully Sharks GM Doug Wilson will be able to find a team willing to take on Shelley in return for a late round draft choice.
Not only will it mean an increase role for the younger McLaren, but it will save some cap room with Shelley making about $200K more this season.
That may not seem like much, but with Wilson having to flip flop players back and forth to the minors to save money, it would certainly be a trade to help the cause.
But the most important thing is that the Sharks get young and allow McLaren to take on Shelley's role.
San Jose is going to need third and fourth lines who can keep up with the Patrick Kanes and Anze Kopitars of the world during the playoffs.
McLaren will be a big part of doing just that.
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