A common criticism of Patrick Marleau is that his production disappears for long stretches of time, that he is streaky. The underlying assumption is that other players with similar points totals and salary are more consistent offensive threats, and, theoretically, the Sharks would have been better off giving Marleau's ice-time and money to someone else.
I don't buy this theory, to be absolutely transparent about my bias. Most elite players will have cold streaks, and the goodwill (or not) of a fanbase will color their perception of how those cold streaks are perceived. Marleau's talent is extremely difficult to replace, in any case, and, given the same level of scrutiny, there are only a handful of players in the league that would outshine him (and they tend to not move teams often, if at all).
I decided to test out the streakiness theory by comparing Marleau to another elite goal scorer at a similar stage of his career, Marian Hossa. I looked at the 2010-11 regular season and compared their stats and cold streaks (2 or more games without a point).
|2010-11 Regular Season||Marleau||Hossa|
Pointsless streaks (2+ games)
|Total games on cold streak||21||22|
|% of games on cold streak||25.6%||33.8%|
In 2010-11 Hossa was actually the streakier scorer, with slightly more than a third of his season spent on a cold streak. Hossa's worst stretch was worse than Marleau's, at 7 games to Patty'e 5. Marleau had more, shorter streaks, generally. Their similar points-per-game percentage point to Hossa being marginally more productive when he was hot, but Marleau was ultimately the more productive forward, night in and out.