Just some San Jose Sharks-relevant odds and ends today: A scout said “Stay away” in regards to pending UFA Alex Galchenyuk, a Marcus Sorensen update, Barclay Goodrow talked about Game Seven versus the Golden Knights last year and Joe Pavelski, and Pavelski chats about how odd it is to be on the same team with Corey Perry.
“Stay Away” from Galchenyuk
Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin told reporters this week that they would not be re-signing pending UFA Alex Galchenyuk.
So the third-overall pick of the 2012 Draft will be onto his fifth team in four years. Should the San Jose Sharks check in?
A scout — not one of two who talked to San Jose Hockey Now two weeks ago about Galchenyuk and other UFA forwards — cautioned: “Stay away. He doesn’t want to work. He’s a good player — when he feels like it.”
There will be a team that takes a chance on the former 30-goal scorer. After all, he’s just 26. But nobody, it seems, has figured out how to get Galchenyuk going.
“If we knew,” the scout acknowledged, “he would be with us.”
Sorensen to Allsvenskan?
Will Joel Kellman joining Kristianstads IK open up the floodgates for Sharks players to join Allsvenskan clubs?
Of course, there were already rumors that Marcus Sorensen is on his way to the same league’s HC Vita Hästen.
However, Vita Hästen GM/head coach Tony Zabel, who spoke with SJHN about Sorensen a couple days ago, says they had “no further information” on the San Jose Sharks winger.
If you’re curious why Kellman, and potentially, Sorensen, will be playing in second-division competition instead of top-division SHL, Swedish hockey insiders Per Bjurman and Uffe Bodin filled us in earlier today.
Goodrow on San Jose & Pavelski
This morning, Barclay Goodrow talked about what he learned from last year’s Game Seven against Vegas. No San Jose Sharks fan will ever forget his series-winning overtime goal, but people may forget that he was benched in the middle of the game before his re-emergence in OT: “When you go on different runs, you learn things along the way. I learned a lot from that game. It’s just about staying even-keel. There’s so many things that can go on in a game. It’s like you’re never out of it. You always have to stay ready.
“There’s definitely a lot of highs and lows. You just have to stay the course.”
Goodrow was also asked about facing his ex-captain Joe Pavelski in the Stanley Cup Final: “He’s a leader. He’s a guy, it’s easy to follow to follow his lead. His play in the playoffs speaks for itself; he rises to the occasion. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years; it’s going to be fun to compete against him.”
Pavelski & Perry
Speaking of odd couples, long-time rivals Pavelski and Corey Perry shared the podium yesterday at Stanley Cup Media Day.
Before their team-up this season, Pavelski had played 66 regular season games against Perry’s Anaheim Ducks, Perry 65 against Pavelski’s San Jose Sharks.
“I think it’s great. A few games ago, we did one of these [pressers] and I just kind of looked up at the screen and saw it, and I just kind of started laughing,” Pavelski said, smiling. “This is great, here in the playoffs with Corey Perry. It’s been awesome. There’s tons of experience, we’ve competed against each other for a long time. It’s fun to be on the same side.”
Pavelski vs. Perry was also book-ended by a pair of playoff match-ups, Anaheim’s six-game upset of the top-seed in 2009 and San Jose’s first-round sweep in 2018. But Perry pointed out that they had also been fierce rivals outside of the NHL.
“There are lots of battles that we’ve gone through, regular season, playoffs, whatever it may be. Internationally,” Perry noted. “There’s been a lot of hockey played between us. It’s nice to be sitting here beside him right now and doing this.”
Wisconsin-born Pavelski has battled Ontario native Perry in the 2010 Olympics, the 2014 Olympics, and the 2016 World Cup.
But now, they’re sharing laughs and the same sweater on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final.
Mark Letestu & Mark Morris on John Madden the Coach
Everybody knows about John Madden the player.
And why shouldn’t they?
Three-time Stanley Cup champion. 2001 Selke Trophy winner. Three-time Selke runner-up.
But not everybody knows about Madden the coach. Madden was an assistant coach on Kevin Dineen and Gerard Gallant’s staffs with the Florida Panthers from 2013-16. Madden took over as a head coach for the Cleveland Monsters from 2016-19.
Last week, Madden was announced as an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks. As he did in Florida, he’ll be running the forwards and the penalty kill.
San Jose Hockey Now got some perspective about Madden’s time in Florida and Cleveland from fellow assistant coach Mark Morris and player Mark Letestu.
In 2014-15, Mark Morris worked with Madden in Florida. The Panthers weren’t remarkable on the PK during Madden’s tenure — they finished 30th, 24th, and 24th from 2013-16 — but perhaps Florida’s roster was made up of perhaps too many offensive-leaning players, a mix of too young and too old.
“You do the best with the people you have on the roster. It’s hard to say if there were any stalwart defensively-minded players,” Morris recalled. “Even if they’re veteran players, there’s no guarantee their forte is the defensive side of the puck.”
Morris, a preps/NCAA/AHL/NHL coaching veteran of 27 years by the time he settled in Florida, was impressed by Madden’s PK coaching acumen:
“In the college game, most of the penalty killing is in straight lines. In the pro game, they do what they call a trap-down. That’s where once you get the puck moving in a specific direction, if you’re the forward that’s forcing the play up top, you continue on down and press down on the guy on the half-boards.
“I remember one of the things he talked about was when you press down as the strong-side forward on the guy at the half-wall, keep your stick in a neutral position. That way, you’re eating up ice, as opposed to just keeping your stick in the passing lane
“Guys at the NHL are so skilled, it’s nothing to flip it over a stick.
“When you lead with your stick in the middle, it’s almost like you have to thread a needle to get it back up to guy at top.
“If you’re the guy on the half-wall with the puck, you have that stick in front of you, eating that ice up.
“It opened my eyes up to how intricate and detailed things are in his own mind.”
Mark Letestu was 34 when he played for Madden in Cleveland during 2018-19.
The first thing that Letestu noticed about Madden?
“The Stanley Cups. For a while, he was probably the gold standard in the NHL for a defensive, shutdown penalty kill guy,” he said. “It’s instant respect in the room.”
This might matter for a veteran-laden San Jose Sharks group. Something else that might matter to vets like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic is Madden’s ability to connect with them.
“For me, just where I was in my career, he was an easy guy to have a conversation with. Share stories. Faceoff stuff. Penalty killing,” Letestu remembered. “He knew how to handle a veteran presence in the room.”
So what’s in store for the league-leading San Jose Sharks PK?
“I don’t think, when you get a new penalty kill coach, that there will be a ground-breaking system or a new scheme that’s going to change your team significantly,” Letestu pointed out. “But what I found with John, in the penalty-killing meetings we had, it was really clear. There wasn’t a lot of gray area. It took a lot of the guesswork out for players.”
“The hesitation suddenly leaves your game. Your PK and your players are suddenly faster because there’s no gray area,” Letestu observed. “He helped the players get the noise out and just react instead of thinking out there.”
For what it’s worth, Cleveland was 3rd, 26th, and 7th in the AHL in the PK during Madden’s tenure. Letestu gave Madden a lionshare of the credit for the success of the 2018-19 Monsters, who made the playoffs during the last game of the season, then knocked off top-seeded Syracuse Crunch in the first round.
Letestu acknowledged: “He got the most out of our team. We probably overachieved.”
Where Does Joe Pavelski Rank Among Greatest American Skaters?
Every Sunday at Peng to the Point, we talk about the world away from the San Jose Sharks.
It’s impossible to compare eras.
But yesterday, my colleague Jimmy Murphy from Boston Hockey Now threw this out there:
— MurphysLaw74 (@MurphysLaw74) September 27, 2020
My initial reaction was there were at least 10 Americans that I could think of who I’d start a franchise with over prime Joe Pavelski.
However, Pavelski’s case to be a top-15 all-time American player might be stronger than you think.
After some spirited online debate, I identified three standards to compare between eras: Prime, Career, and Playoff.
And with the help of Hockey Reference’s Stathead, I actually had some measures to try to compare eras.
So who are the greatest American skaters? And where does Pavelski stack up?
But before we get going: To Brett or not to Brett?
Every significant American goal-scoring record is owned by Canadian-born Brett Hull, who represented the United States in international competition. You name it — Hull has the most single-season, career, and playoff goals of any American.
It’s because of Hull that every American NHL record has to be categorized as American-born, to simply give everybody else a chance.
Case in point:
The Big Pavelski pic.twitter.com/SV9nH8BSVz
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) September 27, 2020
Pretty good, right? Well, Pavelski is still 42 playoff goals away from catching Hull.
For the purpose of this debate and to include the best of the best, I’m making the executive decision to include Hull.
Including Hull, there have been 20 American 50-goal seasons:
Hull owns five of the top-seven spots. For what it’s worth, every one of these 20 campaigns occurred from 1984-1997, a mostly high-scoring period of time in the league. Pavelski’s career-high 41-goal 2013-14 campaign is tied for just 41st among top American goal-scoring campaigns.
That 41st, however, becomes far more impressive when we use Hockey Reference’s Adjusted Goals metric:
Pavelski’s 2013-14 rises to tied for 21st on the list.
These adjustments for era matter.
Patrick Kane, for example, shows up just twice in the top-10 list for single-season assists by an American forward. His career-high 66 assists in 2018-19 is fourth all-time.
But using adjusted assists, Kane suddenly dominates, taking five of the top-10 spots. His 2018-19 also shoots up to second behind Pat Lafontaine.
Here’s a comparison, by the way, of top-10 points by an American skater, raw and adjusted:
|1||Pat LaFontaine||1992-93||BUF||148||Pat LaFontaine||1992-93||BUF||119|
|2||Kevin Stevens||1991-92||PIT||123||Patrick Kane||2015-16||CHI||119|
|3||Kevin Stevens||1992-93||PIT||111||Patrick Kane||2018-19||CHI||111|
|4||Patrick Kane||2018-19||CHI||110||Kevin Stevens||1991-92||PIT||109|
|5||Joe Mullen||1988-89||CGY||110||John LeClair||1998-99||PHI||102|
|6||Jeremy Roenick||1993-94||CHI||107||John LeClair||1996-97||PHI||101|
|7||Jeremy Roenick||1992-93||CHI||107||John LeClair||1997-98||PHI||100|
|8||Jimmy Carson||1987-88||LAK||107||Doug Weight||1995-96||EDM||100|
|9||Patrick Kane||2015-16||CHI||106||Johnny Gaudreau||2018-19||CGY||99|
|10||Craig Janney||1992-93||STL||106||Patrick Kane||2019-20||CHI||99|
All these adjusted stats suggest that Hull is the dominant American scorer, Pat Lafontaine and Kane are the dominant playmakers up front. We also get a good sense of how unstoppable John LeClair was in the “dead puck” era.
So that was the statistical portion of the argument. Subjectively, which American skaters, in their primes, are clearly ahead of Pavelski?
From these lists, Hull, Lafontaine, Kane, and LeClair jump out. For his strong two-way play and leadership, both Pavelski strong suits, coupled with otherworldly skills, Mike Modano can’t be denied. Among defensemen, it’s hard to dispute American Norris Trophy winners Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, and Rod Langway. Three-time Norris Trophy runner-up Mark Howe deserves mention. Auston Matthews is simply too special a player right now, even at just 23 years old.
After this elite top-10 though, perhaps we can start to debate Pavelski. But it would be a fierce debate: Up front, prime Keith Tkachuk, Tony Amonte, Bill Guerin, Kevin Stevens, Joe Mullen, Bill Guerin, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, Neal Broten, Jack Eichel, Phil Kessel, and Doug Weight are very much in this tier of the conversation. In the back-end, Phil Housley, Ryan Suter, Dustin Byfuglien, and John Carlson, among others, are in the discussion too.
We’ll focus on regular season careers here.
The 36-year-old Pavelski actually shows well here.
Pavelski’s 792 points is 20th among all Americans. But let’s look at adjusted all-time points:
|Player||Career Points||Player||Career Adjusted Points|
|Brett Hull||1391||Mike Modano||1408|
|Mike Modano||1374||Brett Hull||1390|
|Phil Housley||1232||Jeremy Roenick||1228|
|Jeremy Roenick||1216||Patrick Kane||1154|
|Keith Tkachuk||1065||Keith Tkachuk||1150|
|Joe Mullen||1063||Phil Housley||1148|
|Doug Weight||1033||Doug Weight||1099|
|Brian Leetch||1028||Brian Leetch||1039|
|Patrick Kane||1022||Phil Kessel||968|
|Pat LaFontaine||1013||Tony Amonte||953|
|Chris Chelios||948||Bill Guerin||921|
|Neal Broten||923||Joe Mullen||918|
|Tony Amonte||900||Chris Chelios||908|
|Phil Kessel||861||Pat LaFontaine||902|
|Bill Guerin||856||John LeClair||893|
|Gary Suter||844||Joe Pavelski||882|
|John LeClair||819||Zach Parise||881|
|Ed Olczyk||794||Blake Wheeler||857|
|Zach Parise||792||Brian Rolston||828|
|Joe Pavelski||792||Scott Gomez||820|
Pavelski finds himself just outside the top-15 now and a lot closer to Hall of Famers Lafontaine and Mullen. Tkachuk, Weight, Amonte, Guerin, and Kessel’s careers suddenly start to look more impressive.
Meanwhile, Pavelski’s 369 goals is 13th among all American skaters. Once again, however, his adjusted figures are more impressive:
|Player||Career Goals||Player||Career Adjusted Goals|
|1||Brett Hull||741||Brett Hull||738|
|2||Mike Modano||561||Keith Tkachuk||584|
|3||Keith Tkachuk||538||Mike Modano||578|
|4||Jeremy Roenick||513||Jeremy Roenick||514|
|5||Joe Mullen||502||Bill Guerin||467|
|6||Pat LaFontaine||468||Patrick Kane||449|
|7||Bill Guerin||429||John LeClair||447|
|8||Tony Amonte||416||Tony Amonte||443|
|9||John LeClair||406||Zach Parise||435|
|10||Patrick Kane||389||Joe Mullen||432|
|11||Zach Parise||386||Phil Kessel||422|
|12||Phil Kessel||371||Joe Pavelski||418|
|13||Joe Pavelski||369||Pat LaFontaine||414|
Pavelski has suddenly joined the 400-goal club, moving ahead of Lafontaine.
Do we start to have the argument that Pavelski can be a top-15 all-time American skater?
If we don’t yet, this is where Pavelski absolutely shines.
Unfortunately, Hockey Reference doesn’t have adjusted post-season stats. But we can do some quick-and-dirty math to approximate adjusted playoff figures — basically, I extrapolated regular-season adjustments and applied them to playoff goals.
Here’s your new top-six among Americans in post-season goals:
|Adjusted Playoff Goals||Playoff Goals|
Obviously, Pavelski is still sitting pretty.
And here’s something truly striking. Among the top-13 all-time American regular season goal scorers, Pavelski is the only one whose goal-scoring pace increased in the playoffs, albeit marginally:
|Player||Regular Season Goals Per Game||Playoff Goals Per Game||Difference|
Now that’s impressive.
Top-30, Top-20, Top-10?
Prime Pavelski is a clear top-30 American skater. Factoring in his longevity, top-20 seems reasonable. Do his post-season exploits get him into the top-10 debate?
I’m not sure — but if you had to win a Game Seven with all U.S. skaters, Pavelski would be a sure-fire pick. Besides production, you’ll also get inspiring leadership and reliable two-way play.
We’ll see if Pavelski can keep adding to his illustrious playoff legacy tonight.
Scouts on How Potential Buyout UFAs Would Fit Sharks
There’s going to be a fresh batch of free agents starting tomorrow.
The NHL’s buyout window opens tomorrow and runs through October 8th. Bought-out players will become unrestricted free agents.
And there might be more buyouts than ever, because of the flat salary cap and teams looking to cut costs because of pandemic-reduced revenue.
Of course, “fresh” is generous. There’s a reason why these veterans are in danger of being axed.
But for the San Jose Sharks and other cap-strapped teams, these potential UFAs can be gold.
A buy-out means these players are still making the money from their old contracts, just over a longer period of time. Thus, when choosing a new team, money isn’t necessarily their primary motivation.
This is where you can find value, like when the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks were able to pick up bought-out Brad Richards for a reduced rate over the summer. The ex-New York Ranger would contribute 14 points in the playoffs to the 2015 Stanley Cup champs.
In a salary cap world, unearthing the gems who outperform their cap hits is the difference between a Stanley Cup or a second-round loss, a playoff appearance or lottery balls.
Three scouts offered their thoughts to San Jose Hockey Now about how some of the higher-profile potential buyouts — James Neal, Kyle Turris, Olli Maatta, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Henrik Lundqvist, to name a handful — could help or hurt the San Jose Sharks.