If you asked me three years ago if I thought Patrick Marleau would play his entire career as a member of the San Jose Sharks, my facial expression would give away my answer. Of course Marleau will retire a Shark, I would have said. I can’t imagine him in a color other than teal would come next.
Today? July 7, 2016? I’m not so sure. Things have gotten a little weird around Marleau over the past couple of years and I’m not certain any of that is his fault. The usual, boring drivel arose after the reverse sweep, obviously, but things seemed settled back into their natural place this past season.
San Jose just reached its first Stanley Cup Final and seems poised for another run. If Marleau wanted to leave back in January, he certainly could have changed his mind by now. Or maybe he still wants out and has texted Doug Wilson every day to check on the progress.
Given that we haven’t heard anything, my guess is that isn’t how this is going. So let’s forget about the trade stuff. We don’t know if any of that was ever real anyway, right? If the only factors in Marleau staying a Shark are his play on the ice and the type of contract he’ll want next year, should Wilson try to keep him in San Jose?
That’s also tricky.
Marleau scored 25 goals last season (that’s a lot) but also tallied only 48 points. His points per game of 0.59 is his lowest since the 2001-02 season. I don’t think it’s controversial to say Marleau’s game has deteriorated; mostly because that’s how aging works for everyone except Joe Thornton and Jaromir Jagr.
While Marleau still boasts a fine scoring touch, his possession numbers have deteriorated. He’s not a player who can carry a line by himself anymore, which makes him a great pick to play alongside Tomas Hertl on the Sharks third line this season. But what about after that?
Marleau currently makes $6.66 million a season (in terms of AAV). A pay cut is certainly coming, but how much do you pay the face of your franchise in the waning years of his career? These are the questions Wilson will need to answer to keep a public relations nightmare from occurring.
Maybe this all resolves itself before the season starts and Marleau signs a contract extension next week. Maybe! I hope it does; otherwise, this could be a pretty awkward regular season. I didn’t see that coming.