Marc-Edouard Vlasic's strengths in the defensive zone and on social media have been well-documented. But, Vlasic hasn't been known for his offensive prowess. On pace for a career high in points, Vlasic appears to be bucking the trend so far this season. But a deeper look at the numbers shows that his offensive surge is likely just that: a hot streak.
Save for a 36-point season in 2008-09, Vlasic's never scored more than 26 points in a single year. Through 39 games, he's just seven points off of the second highest of his career...with 40 games left in the regular season. Per 60 minutes in all situations, Vlasic is scoring points and assisting at the highest rate of his career, while scoring goals at the second highest.
His per 60 rates look even better in score-adjusted situations at even strength, where he is scoring goals, points, and assisting at the highest rate of his career. Of course, some of that has been driven by a career high personal shooting percentage of 8.7% at even strength, which is nearly double his career rate.
It's a similar picture on the power play. If Vlasic keeps this up, he'd have posted career highs in points, assists, and goals per 60 minutes, as well as the fourth-highest shooting percentage and PDO of his career in all power play situations.
So, can the Sharks expect Vlasic to keep this up? Probably not, as it's very likely that Vlasic's PDO and shooting percentages will regress closer to his career averages, causing his points, goals, and assists to do the same. But, Vlasic may be able to withstand some of that regression if he continues to shoot the puck.
At even strength and on the power play, Vlasic is shooting at the third and fourth highest rates per 60 minutes of his career, respectively. If Vlasic continues to get 1.7 shots per game for the Sharks' remaining 40 games, and scored at his career average (4.7%), he'd score three more goals, bringing him to eight total and good enough for the second most in a single season. That's still expecting a decent amount of good fortune, but it's not entirely out of the question.
It would be nice if Vlasic could continue scoring at this rate, but it should not be expected. More likely than not, Vlasic will finish the season as the player he's always been: a shutdown defenseman. None of San Jose's defensemen have had as positive of an impact on puck possession while dealing with as difficult zone starts as Vlasic.
In this case, regression to the mean may not be such a bad thing after all.