RFA of the Day: Marcel Goc

I'm biased on this issue. Back in the day (January), I wrote a response to a poster's dissin' of Marcel Goc. Although some of my reasoning was faulty, many of the points I made about why I like Goc as a player still hold true today. I'm not as into him as I was earlier in the season, but I still have faith that he can be a capable third line player.

First off, Goc will be 26 at the beginning of next season. He's not "young" by traditional prospect standards, but he's also not yet old enough to write off completely. Here's his scouting report, courtesy of TheHockeyNews.com

ASSETS: Has outstanding speed and creative instincts in the offensive zone. Is a capable player in all game situations.
FLAWS: Must gain more strength in order to withstand the pounding of an 82-game schedule. Needs more time to fully develop his all-around game.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Second line center.

 Although Goc might never reach his potential, this report is what should be expected from a late first round pick. In researching Goc, I also found this article which was written about him in 2006 at Hockey's Future, take a look see...

Entering the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Marcel Goc was considered the best prospect Germany had produced since Marco Sturm. Five years later, San Jose's second German first round pick is well on his way toward becoming one of the top two-way forwards in the NHL.

After playing four seasons in the DEL Goc came to North America for the 2003-04 season to play for the AHL Cleveland Barons. The 20-year-old Goc scored 16 goals and 21 assists in 78 games for Cleveland, but he also impressed in five playoffs games with the San Jose Sharks. The lockout kept him out of the NHL in 2004-05, but with the return of the NHL came the arrival of Goc in San Jose as a regular in the line-up.

Goc started the 2005-06 season as a second and third line center, but he was moved down to the third and fourth lines after the acquisition of Joe Thornton. However, after Alyn McCauley was injured against Nashville in the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Goc was again on the third line full-time and playing a high-energy forechecking game.

The 22-year-old has displayed keen two-way hockey sense since he was a teenager in Germany, but the smooth skating Goc also has soft hands and offensive abilities. His defensive awareness and effort, mixed with his offensive skills, should help Goc contend for the Selke Trophy later in his career. Goc will never be a regular first line forward in the NHL, but players like Goc help win Stanley Cups.

It's that last line that gets me. People around here get on Goc for his inability to score, but that's really not what Goc is about. In 55 games this year, I was pretty impressed from what I saw from Goc, even with the lack of scoring. Like these observers above, I see Goc's ability to play a solid two way game. If he wasn't the victim of the crazy 3rd - 4th line shuffling during the year, he probably would have put up much better numbers to go along with his solid defensive play. Defensive play, you ask? Well, according to behindthenet.ca, Goc took 0.5 penalties/60, yet drew 1.0. The 1.83 goals/60 mins that were scored against the Sharks while Goc was on the ice is 5th lowest on the team.

These are solid numbers. Most importantly, though, is face-off percentage. Although Goc's missed games take him out of the running for the league lead in the category, his 58.2 winning percentage put him first on the Sharks and fourth in the NHL. That's crazy valuable.

If I were McLellan, I'd plop Goc on a third line with Mitchell and Moen/whoever else. That all-energy checking line would work magic in all three zones. People forget that Goc is one of the best all around skaters on the team, and putting him on a line with Mitchell would help both of their numbers. In addition, I would give Goc more duties on the PK. Although Marleau, Michalek, Grier, and Pavelski got the job done for most of the season last year, I'd prefer that Mitchell and Goc see more time. This is a necessity with Grier likely leaving, but it will also allow McLellan to rest Marleau more. Third, I'd make sure that Goc was hitting the gym every day. Adding 10-15 pounds to his 6'1", 200 lb frame would do wonders for his skillset. With that extra size, Goc would also be able to more easily create offense. He loves moving the puck to the wings and playing along the boards; the increased size would give him an advantage in that department. I'm also ready to see him start camping in front of the net when he doesn't have the puck. That grit could be used in the defensive zone too, as an increased frame could help him block shots. Lastly, bulking up will likely help prevent injury; he's broken down almost every year so far. Hit the weights, Count Chocula.

All in all, I'm not ready to give up on Goc. I think he's a good player. He might never put up the offensive numbers that a top six forward would, but that's not what I'm looking for. I want a solid, two way player who chips in some offense here and there. 11 points isn't nearly enough, but I think we can expect good things from Goc this year. With consistent line mates, a 30 point season isn't out of the question. It's time for him to live up to the hype.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Goc is the cataylst to this team's success. If he can finally become the dominant (doesn't have to score 50 points to do this) two way player I expect him to be, well, let's just say I don't think we'd be going home in the first round. He's got the grit we're missing, he just has to use it.

TCY's Final Offer: 3 years at $1.00MM annually. It's a pretty decent raise over the $775,000 he was making last year, even though his stats don't really merit an increase. I'm giving him the 3 year deal in hopes that the $1.00MM looks like a good deal in year two, and a steal in year three. I don't think the demand is too high for him, but signing a thrid line player with his potential at this price is almost criminal. Also, he looks like Count Chocula, and I love it.

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