2014-15 Season Review: John Scott

We continue our postmortem of the Sharks' season with a review of John Scott's debut in teal.

Fear The Fin Player Card (click to enlarge; a glossary of terms used can be found here; all data courtesy War On Ice, Behind the Net, Hockey Analysis, NHLNumbers and NHL.com; stick tap to Japers' Rink):

2014-15 John Scott Player Card

2014-15 Sharks 5v5 Forward Usage Chart (via Hockey Abstract):

John Scott Player Usage Chart

The Good: Scott provided an entirely unexpected dose of offense, more than doubling his career goal total with a 3-goal season this year. That was more goals (in nearly 2000 fewer minutes!) than $7.5 million Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter scored in the regular season and playoffs combined. Off the ice, John Scott was hilarious, good-natured and had a sense of humor about himself and his role. He wore a t-shirt featuring his enthusiastic goal celebration, he let EPIX film him struggling to do a single push-up and he did this. Even as someone who hated the signing and still does, it was hard not to like Scott as a person. Unfortunately being a good dude and being a useful NHL player aren't always one and the same.

The Bad: John Scott is not a NHL-caliber hockey player but unlike with Adam Burish and Mike Brown, Sharks management was probably well aware of that when they signed him. He was brought in to punch faces and prevent other teams from "taking liberties" with San Jose skaters. Well, Scott fought all of two guys this year (one of whom was overmatched lightweight Derek Dorsett) and while no one kneed Tomas Hertl this season it's hard to credit that to Scott's presence alone considering both that he was scratched or suspended for more than half the games and that there's absolutely no evidence enforcers deter injuries.

Scott's purported ability to make opposing evildoers shit their pants in fear didn't prevent Clayton Stoner from knocking Joe Thornton out of the lineup, or Marc-Edouard Vlasic from missing games with a lower-body injury and suspected concussion, or Scott Hannan from being run into the glass in Philadelphia. Frankly, it would have been idiotic to expect Scott's presence on the roster to prevent any of that because that's simply not how hockey works. With the advent of the instigator rule and the fact that designated goons play maybe six minutes a night, never alongside or against skilled players, even the scariest enforcer in the league isn't going to make opponents think twice before laying devastating, even injurious, hits.

Meanwhile, Scott posted the second-worst possession numbers on the team after Brown (third-worst if you count Burish's numbers from before he was waived; what a great fourth line Doug Wilson assembled to start the year!) and despite him benefiting from one of the team's highest PDOs, the Sharks were outscored with Scott on the ice. For one of the most terrifying guys in the NHL, Scott's skating style is awfully reminiscent of Bambi. Despite piling up plenty of hits on players after they'd already successfully advanced the puck, Scott was simply never able to get in position to use his physical advantages effectively by separating opponents from the puck, establishing a forecheck or prolonging cycles. You know, things useful fourth liners can do.

The Highlight:

John Scott Goal

Everything about this goal is just Bizarro World hockey. First, Burish of all people makes an insane one-touch kick pass to Scott in the neutral zone, then Scott streaks in and blows by the Capitals defenseman before absolutely sniping the puck past current Conn Smythe Trophy favorite Braden Holtby. Most surprisingly, the Washington blueliner Scott embarrassed here was Brooks Orpi...wait, no, that's not Bizarro World at all.

The Future: If the Sharks can bring Scott back as a motivational speaker or a secondary mascot or something, I'm all for it. But as great and lovable as S.J. Sharkie is, they don't let him suit up for actual games and they can't afford to let Scott or anyone of his skill level do so either. Of the teams still alive in the playoffs, the only one with anything even approaching a full-time enforcer is Calgary with Brandon Bollig and it's been well-documented that they're one of the worst teams to make the second round in the modern era. As discussed in the Mike Brown review, successful teams by and large have effective NHL-caliber contributors on their fourth lines. Scott isn't one of those and he absolutely should not be re-signed.

The Vote: Grade Scott below on a typical grading curve from A+ to F based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season. If he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a A+; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a C+ or C; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him an F.

How would you grade Scott's 2014-15 season?