The second most important player for the San Jose Sharks in 2009-10 who is eligible for unrestricted free agency is Patrick Marleau. Thus, he is the subject of the second article in the series examining each player’s performance during the regular and post-season (the latter counting for about a third of their grade).
Marleau set career highs for goals (44—only three NHL players scored more) and plus-minus (+21), registered his second-highest number of points (83) and shorthanded goals (four), and third in assists (39), power play goals (12), and game winning goals (six—tie). In the playoffs, he finished with eight goals (two game winners), five assists, and a minus-three rating.
His skating ability has made him among the best defensive forwards on the team. This is an improvement for a player who did not seem motivated to play defence just two seasons ago, when he finished minus-19. He has continued to improve on physicality and shot-blocking, is solid in the faceoff circle, and collected just 30 penalty minutes in 96 games including the playoffs.
Marleau also provides leadership for the team even though he is not vocal. Many observers were wondering how he would respond to having the captaincy taken from him in the offseason. There was not only no hangover, but he was the team’s only real threat to score in the conference finals, an indication he still led by example.
He made $6.3 million during the season—fourth highest on the team. However, as the Sharks leader in goals, plus-minus, shorthanded goals, shooting percentage, and fewest penalty minutes per game played, Marleau was the team’s best player in the regular season, earning an A for his effort.
After a poor first round, he finished second on the team in all postseason goal categories—total, game-winning, and special teams—and third in points. However, the top line struggled defensively, with only four players finishing worse in plus-minus.
And while in the Western Conference scoring was up 25 percent in the playoffs compared to the regular season, his scoring dropped slightly (goals up one percent, but points down two percent).
Thus, he performed well by-and-large and was among the team’s best players in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we cannot grade on a curve, so he deserves no advantage from out-performing teammates offensively.
The bottom line is he did not do as well as one should expect from one of the Sharks best and most-compensated players, and earns a C- on his final exam, giving him a high B for an overall grade.
To see what his future looks like with the team, visit the companion piece on Shark-Infested Blogger.