Welcome to another week of Ask the Editors! If you're new here, this is where editors Jonathan Wold and Jake Sundstrom ask reader (and not reader) inspired questions. Want your question answered? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. So without further ado...
1. There was talk from Brodie Brazil about needing to retire Marleau's number when he retires. Do you agree? And also is anyone else more deserving?
JW:Patrick Marleau absolutely deserves to have his number retired for San Jose after his career comes to an end. He owns just about every franchise record this team has (except for assists). He's played for the Sharks his entire career - now more than half his life, wearing every jersey the Sharks have ever worn. He's possibly the most durable player on the team - he hasn't missed a game since 2008. And he's not just a great Shark, he deserves to be a hall of famer. In all likelihood, he's going to end his career top 20 in NHL history in games played and top 10 in game winning goals.
You can make a case to retire 11, 20, or 19. But I don't see how you can't retire 12. Patrick Marleau IS the San Jose Sharks.
JS: I have to believe Marleau getting his number retired is a foregone conclusion at this point. He leads the Sharks in just about every category a skater can lead a franchise in. He's Mr. Shark, and he's getting his jersey retired. Arguments can be made for other guys getting their jersey's raised first — Owen Nolan being one of them — but I would have no quibble with Marleau getting the honor first. He wasn't the first Shark, but he's the most important.
2. Backup goalies: time to scan the market for alternatives to Stalock?
JW: That's a tough question. Stalock certainly hasn't been the goaltender a lot of fans expected him to be. Stalock's played closer to what you'd expect from his AHL numbers. Upgrading on Stalock would probably be a good idea. We don't know how Jones will respond late in the year to being a heavy workhorse netminder. He may get worn out. It's been said that projecting how goalies play is voodoo. I think what's really voodoo is projecting the trade value of a goaltender. This past summer, Martin Jones and Robin Lehner required 1st round picks to acquire. Eddie Lack meanwhile went for a 3rd rounder. Antti Raanta was traded for a formerly undrafted player. If a decent back-up goalie can be had for spare parts, go for it. But if the team has to give up something significant, it might be more worthwhile to just give Troy Grosenick or Aaron Dell a go as back-up.
JS: Nah. Stalock has been (and is) not good, but there's no reason to give up assets when there are a couple of favored goalies with the Barracuda right now. Aaron Dell has a .921 in eight games with the Barracuda and has a great .925 AHL save percentage overall, albeit in way too small a sample size for it to matter (40 games). That's not bad, particularly when you consider Martin Jones had a .921 in 158 games. There's something to be said for Dell's development, but if the coaching staff feels a better backup is needed, it might be worth giving him a look.
3. What do you think of Tomas Hertl's play so far?
JW: Can I just insert the emoji with hearts for eyes? Tomas Hertl has made some huge strides this year. He suffered a bit from a sophomore slump, but appears to have developed into a legitimate top six forward. When he stepped in for Logan Couture on the second line, you could barely notice a difference at 5 on 5. In fact, through 20 games, Hertl led the Sharks in Corsi For %. That's usually insanely hard to do on a team with Joe Thornton. And just going by the eye-test, Hertl puck protection skills look elite. Whether on the boards or off, a player is not going to take the puck from Tomas Hertl. I'd like to see an uptick in his power play game, but I think that will come with time and practice in the system. Also, if we're really splitting hairs, I guess I want to see another 4 goal game. That'd be pretty cool, too.
JS: It turns out that reports of Tomas Hertl's demise have been greatly exaggerated. He's been phenomenal this season, evidenced by his great possession numbers more so than his point total. He's been racking up assists at a solid pace but a very low shooting percentage is keeping him from finding the net more often — my bet is that'll change over the course of the season. For now, he's doing his part by pushing the play as a good, possession driven forward. I'll take it.
4. The NHL All-Star Game has a new format: Thoughts?
JW: Well, I think I covered most of why this is overall a bad idea back before it was officially announced.
But, let's cover some of the new details that were confirmed since then. The "game" is a series of three 20-minute mini-games, with teams divided by division. There's a million dollar prize that might slightly encourage players to go hard, but this is still a glorified vacation for them. No one is ever going to throw a check, especially now. The mini-tournament idea is kind of cool, until you realize that divisional all-star teams mean that you might have to root for any team EXCEPT the Pacific Division All-Stars. Yeah, you might want to root for Joe Pavelski & Brent Burns, but that means you're going to be forced to also root for a team filled with Corey Perry, Drew Doughty and everyone else you've learned to hate. Another unfortunate casualty of this new system is the Fantasy Draft - the event that showed off player personalities more than any other event the NHL has beyond the Road to the Winter Classic videos. Overall, I really think they should have left it alone. The people who complain about it as is still won't be any more likely to watch after this first year novelty wears off.
JS: I couldn't be happier with the new format. I didn't find anything about last year's game (or draft, for that matter) worth watching, while this year I'm certainly game to give it a chance. There's a chance this doesn't cure what ails the sort-of-annual spectacle, but I'm glad the NHL is trying. I also wouldn't mind if they canned the All-Star Game altogether; the Winter Classic is a much more enjoyable spectacle to me than any All-Star Game in any sport.