With Joonas Donskoi and Jannik Hansen both set to join the Sharks’ lineup shortly, two forwards are inevitably going to be scratched. All forwards, except for Micheal Haley, played well last night and have a case of sticking around when San Jose is ready to roll out its full lineup.
Haley’s lack of speed, hockey sense and puck management should have him as an extra forward throughout the rest of the year. No, his fight did not spark the Sharks. The Canucks’ turnover at the top of the blue line did.
Now, it gets interesting. Haley’s spot will be taken by one of Donskoi or Hansen, so somebody will have to slot in on the fourth line. It would be a shame to waste Donskoi’s possession numbers on the fourth line, and Joel Ward has meshed well on the third line with Sorensen and Hertl the last 1.5 games.
Sorensen has an argument to stay in the lineup as well. He’s been impressive with the Barracuda and his awareness and speed are translating nicely to the NHL. He looked very confident last night despite playing 15 shifts, the least of any Shark.
In a small sample size, his CF% is 54.6, which is good. His defensive zone awareness was on display last night. He blocked a shot, which lead to a great shift (and his first NHL goal) and he did a good job covering passing lanes. It’s obvious what he can do offensively, so seeing this transition is promising.
However, Sorensen may end up being the odd man out.
Joel Ward has the advantage to stay over Sorensen because he can kill penalties extremely well and create a good net front presence on the power play. He’s also generated more offensive zone time with 10 shots in his last 4 games.
As good as Labanc has been, Hansen put up 22 goals in 67 games on the Sedins’ wing last year, so maybe he gets a shot with the Joes and Labanc plays one the third line with Donskoi and Hertl. That line would find success.
That would allow Ward to move down to play with Tierney and Karlsson, a fourth line capable of scoring thanks to great hockey sense, a good forecheck, size and speed. That would leave Sorensen in the AHL, which is still great for his development and it shows the management and coaching staff can rely on him if/when needed.
While that’s a bummer for Sorensen, it shows just how deep this San Jose team is right now after picking up Hansen. If there’s a forward to be displaced it’s Karlsson, though that seems unlikely given the way he’s played this season in addition to the small audition Sorensen has received. What do you think?