Connect with us

San Jose Sharks

Sharks Don’t Need Right-Handed Forwards

Published

on

Credit: Brandon Andreasen

What do the San Jose Sharks need up front?

It seems obvious: They need scoring. Or at least competence.

Last week, I wrote about San Jose having just 10 NHL-proven forwards in October 2019, in a season where they finished as the worst team in the Western Conference. One year later, they have…10.

What’s Doug Wilson Doing with Sharks Forwards?

But do they need more right-handed forwards in particular?

It’s been a common refrain this off-season: In addition to the aforementioned qualities, the Sharks are also desperately lacking right-shooting forwards.

On the surface, this appears to be the case: The San Jose Sharks currently have just three righties up front, Kevin Labanc, Dylan Gambrell, and Stefan Noesen.

Assuming San Jose starts next season with 13 forwards, that 23 percent is lower than the league average.

In 2019-20, 35.3 percent of the NHL’s forwards were right-handed.

Does this mean the Sharks should, if they’re still seeking free agent help up front, focus solely on right-shooting forwards?

If they are, it’s a lean list: Ilya Kovalchuk and Corey Perry are the only righty UFA forwards remaining on the market who averaged more than 13 minutes a night this season. Otherwise, want to bite on Melker Karlsson, Trevor Lewis, or Nick Shore?

So are the San Jose Sharks in big trouble next year?

Not necessarily, at least in this department.

A cursory look at top-nine forwards for Stanley Cup-winning squads since 1997-98 — when Time on Ice was first tracked — suggests that evenly-distributed handedness up front isn’t a deal-breaker.

Stanley Cup Winner, Top-9 ForwardsYearLeft-handedRight-handed
TBL202072
STL201954
WSH201845
PIT201763
PIT201672
CHI201572
LAK201445
CHI201372
LAK201245
BOS201145
CHI201063
PIT200972
DET200881
ANA200763
CAR200663
TBL200472
NJD200363
DET200236
COL200172
NJD200063
DAL 199945
DET199845
DET199745

Based on post-season Time on Ice, eight of the last 23 title teams featured 7-2 or 8-1 LH-RH combinations in their top-nine, including this year’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now talking about next year’s San Jose Sharks and the Stanley Cup is far-fetched. But the point is: Don’t worry too much about handedness up front. It’s a nice thing, but you can win with a lopsided number of lefties — as the 2008 Detroit Red Wings did — or a lopsided number of righties — as the 2002 Red Wings did.

“That the Sharks don’t have a lot of right-shot forwards probably doesn’t impact their ability to perform one way or another,” San Jose Hockey Now contributor Erik Fowle offered. “Unless there’s research that shows a certain distribution of handedness improves performance among a team’s forward corps, it’s probably not worth worrying about.”

Left-handed, right-handed, doesn’t matter — the Sharks simply need sure-handed forwards.

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network.
10 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary To

Sharks do have three other highly skilled right handed forwards in Burns Karlsson Merkley … I kid i kid 🙂

david barnard

they have Chmelevski and Blichfeld who should see some ice time this season too.

Gary To

What do you guys feel is lacking in blichfeld’s game? He was such a high offensive player in the WHL, does he have the most offensive upside of the sharks prospects? (Not counting the 2020 draftees)

whiskerz

I would say highest goal scoring upside of the prospects.
Points might go to Sasha

david barnard

Sasha’s definitely a higher level prospect for the Sharks. i could see them being #2-3 at RW depth.

david barnard

i thought he was great as a first year pro with the Cuda. he was a league leader in goals/points early on among his peers. he had his pace messed with a bit by getting called up and sitting most of the time-which drove me crazy at the time! he didn’t have much of an impact in the slight playing time he got with the Sharks, but i thought he did some good things. he’s got NHL size and shot, just average skating though. supposedly he learned to PK for his juniors team, so i’d like to see him bring… Read more »

david barnard

i was just going off memory from what his coach said about him. he’s got some nastiness to him as well, iirc. his shot is accurate and hard, so having some sniper ability (if it translates) makes him valuable for a team needing scoring. i don’t know about his creativity though, probably something that holds him back from being a reliable scorer at the NHL level. hopefully his skating improves some more and he carves out a role with the big club.

Get SJHN in your inbox!

Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Sharks Team & Cap Info

SJHN on Facebook

Follow SJHN on Twitter

All the San Jose Sharks news that's fit to print

Enter your email to get the best Sharks coverage delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.