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Micheal Haley’s greatest skill isn’t grit, it’s drawing penalties

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He’s legitimately good at it.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Truth is, none of us really know why Pete DeBoer gives Micheal Haley or anyone else on the Sharks significant ice time. I’m not saying that to criticize the San Jose Sharks’ head coach, but trying to get in the head of any head coach in the NHL is just about impossible. So don’t let this post read as the arrogant opinion of a blogger who thinks he has discovered something unique.

Staff writer Marcus White (Like A Bossk) and I have talked about Haley’s penalty drawing prowess both on air and off air all season and now that we’ve passed the halfway mark of the campaign it seems the stats have caught up with the eye test. Check out the following chart from hockeyviz.com to see what I’m after:

Yep, that’s Haley up there at the top right of the chart. What makes Haley one of the best grinders in recent memory isn’t just his 5v5 play (he’s decent!) it’s that he draws penalties without committing many. One play Marcus and I talk about all the time comes from the last time the Sharks and Kings played one another. Check out one of the smartest fights in Haley’s career:

The Kings held possession in the Sharks’ end of the ice and Kyle Clifford decided he wanted to fight Haley. So Haley decided, shit, I’m not an idiot, I’m going to fight this guy and bail my team out of a tough spot. That decision paid off and got the Sharks out of a jam. I’m not a fan of staged fights, but this was a great move and got San Jose out of its own end.

I get why people feel I give Haley a rough ride around here, but I feel Haley deserves credit for his impressive penalty drawing ability. Haley draws penalties at an impressive rate, which makes him a great fit with Tommy Wingels on the fourth line. You’ll remember that Wingels drew penalties at a great rate back when he was a regular in the lineup, too.

That doesn’t make Haley a replacement on the fourth line; but it does offer some insight as to why Haley has found a spot with Wingels on the Sharks’ fourth.