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2015-16 Sharks Season in Review: Melker Karlsson

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Melker Karlsson struggled away from the Joes this season. Can he still provide value off of the top line?

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Melker Karlsson, like many players who filled the wing alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, posted much better numbers with the Joes than without. Like he did for much of last season, he spent most of his ice time playing on the Sharks’ top line in the regular season (nearly 193 minutes, according to Corsica Hockey).

With the Joes, Karlsson posted positive even strength Corsi and Fenwick percentages relative to the team, meaning the Sharks attempted more shots with the trio on the ice than without. On every line he played? Well, the results aren’t as pretty.

On every line Karlsson played on this season, the Sharks had better puck possession with his line off the ice than with him on it. If he’s surrounded by talented enough linemates, Karlsson can hold his own. But, this also shows that he’s not good enough to carry his own line.

He did still manage to post 19 points this season though, all at even strength. Because of this, Karlsson could find success in a more sheltered scoring role. It will help avoiding teams’ top lines, as Pete DeBoer wasn’t able to do for Karlsson in the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, if Tomas Hertl slides to third line center, Jake’s projected trio of Nieto, Tierney, and Karlsson on the fourth line may be just what Karlsson needs to improve his possession game away from the Joes.

2015-16 Sharks 5v5 Forward Usage Chart (via Corsica Hockey):

Term definitions:

ZSR: Zone Start Ratio; The percentage of non-neutral zone starts that are offensive zone starts (OZS/(OZS + DZS))

TOI.QoT: Time On Ice Quality of Teammates; The weighted average TOI% of a player’s teammates

Rel.CF%: Individual corsi-for percentage subtracted by the team’s overall corsi-for percentage.

Melker Karlsson Hero Chart (via Own The Puck):

The Highlight:

With the Sharks trailing 3-1 in the series and once again getting massively outshot by the Penguins, Karlsson’s goal in game 5 could not have come at a better time. Martin Jones may have been the game’s first star, but Jones isn’t in a position to steal the game without the Melk man’s goal.