Some Quick Math on Sharks Penalty Kill Minutes

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 9: Michal Handzus #26 of the Los Angeles Kings tries to check Darren Helm #43 of the Detroit Red Wings before he can get a pass away in a game on March 9, 2011 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Kings defeated the Wings 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

My oh my how this summer is dragging along. Although I have been enjoying a new home and break from the daily blogging grind, this whole "getting up in the morning without the excitement of hockey" thing never feels quite right.

Summer is always like this of course, and you always forget the emptiness this time of year brings with it. But this year it feels different in one distinct way. The Sharks made their two big moves within a week of each other, trading Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi for Martin Havlat and Brent Burns, loading up all of the blockbusters into an action packed week that was already filled with the excitement of the draft and beginning of free agency.

In other words, all of that good ol' trade speculation that can get you through the summer (something, anything that involves cognitive exertion) doesn't hold as much weight anymore. It feels flat, petty, and unrealistic. The Sharks already made their big moves, and while there aren't any sacred cows in professional sports, a trade of any sort in the near future seems to be riding that fine line between wishful thinking and possibility. As Matt said earlier, there's no doubt the Sharks will be looking at arbitration for an upgrade (something we'll be covering as the cases come and go), but after that it's August and hockey news goes the way of Houdini.

At any rate, what we have here today is a basic look at the Sharks penalty kill unit by time on ice. Before we get into it I want to make three points:

  • The sole focus of this piece is on the forwards because the addition of Brent Burns (who saw a ton of PK time with Minnesota last year) means the blueline is going to be fine.
  • Reducing Patrick Marleau's and Joe Pavelski's minutes on the PK is in the team's best interest.
  • The Sharks penalty kill was ranked 24th in the NHL last season and needs to improve.

Here is who the Sharks lost this offseason:


San Jose Sharks Penalty Kill Departures

Player POS GP SH TOI
Rank
SH GA/60
Rank
Scott Nichol
C
56
1:46
3rd
5.50 3rd
Jamal Mayers
W
78
1:06
5th
5.59
4th
Dany Heatley
W 80
1:01
8th
4.36
1st
Total OUT
- -
3:53
-
-
-

The Sharks lost 3:53 in shorthanded ice time this offseason when Nichol, Mayers, and Heatley left the roster. Along with Joe Thornton, those three players were the best penalty killers last season when you look at their shorthanded goals against numbers and adjust for ice time. In 2009-2010, Nichol and Heatley were 1-2 on the Sharks according to this metric.

The Sharks have added three forwards via free agency or trade this offseason-- Andrew Murray, Martin Havlat, and Michal Handzus. Here are their numbers:


San Jose Sharks Penalty Kill Additions

Player POS GP SH TOI
Rank
SH GA/60
Rank
Michal Handzus
C
56
2:24
1st
4.85 2nd
Martin Havlat
W
78
0:07
9th
N/A
N/A
Andrew Murray*
C 80
1:19
8th
4.88
2nd
Total IN
- -
3:50
-
-
-

The Sharks have gained 3:50 in shorthanded ice time this offseason, with the vast majority of those minutes coming from PK wizard Michal Handzus. It's what the guy was born to do, and I think it's safe to say that the days when Pavelski and Marleau were leading the team in SH TOI per game are gone. Handzus will be the number one priority on the kill for Todd McLellan.

Two further points-- Murray's contract is a two way deal, meaning that the Sharks have protected themselves by allowing him to receive a smaller salary in the minors if they demote him to Worcester. As I said on Twitter at the time of his signing, I think he gets a fair shake in camp and was brought in to push the younger prospects who are looking for a spot on the team. I would not be surprised for him to make the team and be on the opening night roster, especially if no further additions are made.

Martin Havlat did not play on the penalty kill at all during his time in Minnesota, and was slowly being factored out of the picture during his time with the Blackhawks. However, his straight TOI numbers from earlier in his career are intriguing-- 2:32 in 05-06 with Ottawa, and 1:32 in 06-07 in Chicago. While the most weight should be placed on his most recent usage in this situation, I would not be surprised to see him get minutes in a similar situation to Dany Heatley-- at the end of the PK when the Sharks are looking to capitalize on a tired power play unit running on fumes. Havlat's skating ability could be very beneficial in this situation.

Star-divide

By virtue of their offseason additions, San Jose has essentially broken even in terms of SH TOI per game this offseason. The addition of Handzus is the biggest reason for that, but Murray (if he makes the team out of camp) and Havlat (if he is used on the PK like he was earlier in his career) all provide some interesting choices for McLellan to chose from.

Furthermore, players like Andrew Desjardins (who played a lot on the kill in Worcester) and Torrey Mitchell (who saw his minutes increase in the postseason) will help fill in where necessary, making up for any discrepancy from last year. In essence, the Sharks have filled the holes left by Nichol, Mayers, and Heatley for next season on a shorthanded ice time per game basis.

Tomorrow, we look at the importance of allocating those minutes to players who don't play in the top six.

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