Melker Karlsson played fewer than five minutes on Saturday after sustaining what we believe to be a foot injury. Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz tweeted the forward left the arena on Saturday night with a boot on:
Hearing Melker Karlsson left arena in a walking boot. That’s never a good sign, although it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s anything serious— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzCSN) November 13, 2016
He’s right to caution this may not mean anything serious, but in the event Karlsson misses an extended amount of time (anything more than a few games, to be clear) the Sharks need a backup plan. Let’s take a look at a few of the options Doug Wilson and Peter DeBoer have at their disposal.
Play Matt Nieto or Micheal Haley
The Sharks currently have two players on the roster that can be plugged into the lineup in Nieto and Haley. These would be fine short term solutions and I expect we’ll see one of them on Tuesday even if Karlsson’s injury is only a minor one. However, if Karlsson’s injury requires more than a fill-in guy, the Sharks may want to find another solution.
They’ve shown to have little trust in Nieto, given that they called up Kevin LaBanc to replace him, and quite frankly a fourth line of Michael Haley - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels is not something we want to see for two weeks. Why do I say that, you ask?
Because in their 27 minutes on the ice together they’ve posted a 42.45 corsi-for percentage. That’s score, zone and venue adjusted by corsica.hockey and is the worst of any such line for the Sharks. It’s not good. Here’s a look at his WOWY chart (With or Without You, also from Corsica):
It’s not a great sign that players are consistently better while on the ice with players not named Haley. I know this seems like beating a dead horse to many of you, but I just want to hammer home that Haley can’t be a long-term option for a team that wants to regularly roll four lines.
Call someone up from the Barracuda
This is the sexiest option, obviously, and I’m not talking about Mantas Armalis. The Barracuda boast a host of amazing scorers aching for their shot at the NHL. Nikolay Goldobin, Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Carpenter all have NHL experience while Timo Meier, Daniel O’Regan and Rourke Chartier are all fighting for a shot.
Of these players, I prefer calling up either Goldobin or Chartier based on the limited amount I’ve seen them play combined with their numbers and what I’ve read from those who have actually covered the squad regularly. Goldobin seems to have made strides defensively this year and it might be time to give him another trial by fire in the NHL — and Chartier has centered the top line to great success early on.
Of course Goodrow and Carpenter are relatively safe options. I’d prefer to see Goodrow called up if it’s one of the two given his relative upside, but if the Sharks want to call up a kid I think it should be Goldobin. He’s played well enough in the AHL to earn at least a look, albeit a potentially brief one, with the NHL team.
Make a trade
No. Don’t do this. This would be impossibly stupid. Move on.
This may all be moot if Karlsson comes back and plays on Tuesday, but keep this in mind as the kids knock on the door this season. Tommy Wingels’ job isn’t safe — at least, as long as the Barracuda keep piling up goals the way they have to start the season. This is a very good problem for the Sharks to have.