Jack Han thinks that the San Jose Sharks can be an attractive place for unproven players to play in the years to come for four big reasons: Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, an offense-friendly system, and plenty of opportunity.
Jacob Peterson was a beneficiary of that, after GM Mike Grier acquired him from the Dallas Stars for Scott Reedy at the Trade Deadline. After playing just one game for the Stars this season, the pending RFA, lined up with Hertl, managed to put up two goals and six assists in 11 games with the Sharks and make a decent case for his return next year.
It was shades of Alexander Barabanov, who the San Jose Sharks acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Antti Suomela during the 2021 Trade Deadline. Barabanov wasn’t getting much of a chance with his original team either, but then notched three goals and four assists in nine games with, you guessed it, Hertl, in his San Jose showcase. Evander Kane was also on that line.
Han doesn’t necessarily think that Peterson is Barabanov – the Russian winger has established himself as one of San Jose’s better forwards, notching 93 points in 147 contests since the trade – but the 23-year-old Swede stood out to him in multiple viewings of the Sharks.
As for Karlsson and Hertl, Han has already spoken at length on how both veterans make their teammates better and create organizational value. This is the last article of a three-part chat with Han:
So what did Han see in Peterson? How does he see David Quinn’s first season behind the San Jose Sharks bench? And why is he, at the moment, more optimistic about the Sharks’ future as opposed to say the Anaheim Ducks’?
Han is perhaps best known for his work in analytics, player development, scouting, and coaching in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. Currently, he’s a coaching consultant for ZSC Lions, Connecticut Whale, and high-level players across the world.
Before you start, I urge you to check out Han’s video on how the Sharks have created an offense-friendly system where Karlsson and Hertl can create organizational value.
New Video Breakdown:
I don't blame you if you seldom watch the San Jose Sharks.
However, the team is a source of quality "teaching clips" for coaches looking to implement a new-school transition defense.https://t.co/fpqgNVexxq
— Jack Han (@JhanHky) April 4, 2023
Make sure to also purchase Han’s Hockey Tactics 2023, which details the systems of all 32 NHL teams, including the San Jose Sharks. In honor of William Han-Grenier, born just last week — congrats Jack and Steph! — use code “willy” at checkout to get $8 off any of Jack’s ebooks.
And subscribe to Han’s The Hockey Tactics Newsletter to get exclusive articles about the Sharks and Hertl’s tricks of the trade, and more.
Jack Han, on any under-the-radar San Jose Sharks players who have impressed him:
What’s the story with No. 24? I see him play with Hertl and I see him making some plays. Is it Peterson?
Han, comparing Peterson to another under-the-radar Sharks success story Alexander Barabanov:
He came to the Leafs first, and by then he was already an established KHL pro. So I think that [Alexander] Barabanov would have been a little bit further along [in his development, he was three years older].
Peterson’s the kind of player who other teams don’t really have space for if they’re a playoff contender, because he’s clearly not good enough to be a top-six player right now. But then, he has an opportunity to play top-six minutes with Hertl in San Jose, it can create some runway for him to either become a top-six, middle-six player, or maybe become a trade chip.
Where they’re at right now in their window, that’s exactly the kind of bets that you’re looking for, rookies or second-year pros with some upside that other teams don’t necessarily have the space for.
Han, on what he’s liked about Peterson’s game:
He’s been a good complement to Hertl. I’m seeing him get the puck, try to make some plays. It’s not like he’s blown my socks off.
But if you’re telling me that they got this player for cheap, he wasn’t really valued by his previous team, and he’s not going to be a very expensive RFA signee, that’s an asset that can potentially appreciate if you give him regular offensive minutes.
The good and bad thing for San Jose right now is they don’t really have a lot of players. But with Peterson and Martin Kaut, for example, they have the roster space to bring in two or three of these players, whether it’s on forward or on D. They can bring in two or three of these players, and if they don’t work out, they haven’t given up a lot.
But if they do work out, then they’ve created an asset that they can hold or sell later.
Han, on David Quinn and company’s work this season:
In a vacuum, this year hasn’t been very good because fans would have liked to see a playoff run.
But if you’re looking at this as Year 1 of a three-to-five year window, then I think we’re seeing some good things.
We’re seeing that the Sharks made the right decision to sign Hertl long-term because he’s a player whose game should age relatively well. And I would say, should age better than Timo Meier, for instance. Because Timo Meier is a player who I think sees the game more north-south, has less nuance in his game, and is more reliant on his speed. So I think they made they made a good decision there.
They’ve helped Erik Karlsson re-discover his game, his production, and his market value which is a huge plus. He [was] the hardest contract to move coming into this season.
Aside from that, they’ve acquired some younger players who potentially may be able to give something, like Kaut or Peterson.
Looking at this season as the start of a coherent rebuilding process, I think not too bad.
Han, on why he’s optimistic about the future of the Sharks compared to the rest of the Pacific:
It’s going to be a pretty attractive place to play. If you’re a young pro, between the ages of 21-25, and you’re looking for a place to kind of jumpstart your career—especially if you’re more of a scoring junior [player]—I think San Jose will be a decent landing spot.
Just because of how many minutes are up for grabs next year and in the next couple of years. If you’re able to establish your rebuilding team as a place where players want to come and feel like they can have a chance to perform, then I think you’re definitely on the right path.
And especially if you’re looking at the rest of the Pacific. Edmonton is like in “win now” mode, they’re probably not going to get much better than this. Vancouver, they’re going to have to tear down before they rebuild. Calgary is probably going to have to tear down soon. Vegas, they’re perennially capped out, and they’re not necessarily a good place unless you’re a vet and you’re confident that you’re going to play right away. Anaheim, they’re still in the bottom. They may be able to build back up, but their way of playing, it’s just not there right now.
So San Jose, I like where they’re trending relative to the conference.
Han, on why he’s more bullish about San Jose than Anaheim:
They have Zegras. But if you look at the way that they play tactically, it’s still very much a work in progress or even less than that.
San Jose, they’ve figured out a system that they can roll with. The results aren’t quite there right now, but when you put better players in that system, look at those Meier, Hertl, and Karlsson [together] minutes, they can be really competitive.
Whereas Anaheim, in no way are they competitive in any minutes, even when they have their best players on.
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