The hype train for Marcus Sorensen officially left the station on Thursday night, the culmination of scoring his first goal while getting a shot to play on the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward. The 24-year-old forward signed with the Sharks last year as a free agent and in four games already has two points — not a bad start.
Beyond the points, Sorensen plays a solid two-way game that’s reminiscent of what Joonas Donskoi brings to the table. He skates well, is a decent possession player and can score. The proof is in his AHL numbers. Sorensen has 34 points in 43 games with the San Jose Barracuda, a 0.79 points per game pace. That’s fine, but not spectacular for a player at his age.
Sorensen is third on the Barracuda in primary points per 60 minutes (0.67) — that’s 35th in the AHL according to prospects-stats.com. It’s important to remember that while a player like Sorensen can step in and look the part right away, part of his success comes from his age and maturity. His floor may be higher than some of the prospects we’ve seen this year, like Danny O’Regan and Timo Meier, but his ceiling is also likely lower; at least, based on the sample we’ve got in front of us.
That doesn’t matter much for the problem facing head coach Pete DeBoer. What matters is the production he can get out of his players today. So let’s address what he thinks of the Sharks’ depth chart based on his lineup decisions (hint: I wouldn’t rush out to get a No. 20 jersey just yet).
While Sorensen looked fine last night, there are a couple of reasons to be wary of his staying power with the Sharks. First, he has gotten a lot of offensive zone starts. How many? A LOT.
DeBoer doesn’t line match all that much and isn’t the kind of guy to too heavily shelter players. He plays the fourth line in the offensive zone more often than in the defensive zone, to be sure, but even in this small sample size the chart speaks volumes. You know what else does? His time on ice. I’m not the first to bring this up (a few commenters pointed this out):
Sorensen only got 10 minutes in a game the Sharks absolutely dominated. It’s also worth noting Boedker got a whopping 12 minutes, one fewer than Micheal Haley, on a night he was on the ice for two goals. Sometimes DeBoer doesn’t make any damn sense.
My point is that a guy “moving up the depth chart” doesn’t play 10 minutes in a game like this; particularly not in a game he played pretty darn well in. I like the way Sorensen has played so far, but I also don’t think he’s moved past Kevin Labanc, Joonas Donskoi nor Melker Karlsson. Haley? Sure. But that’s not who he’s competing with — and frankly, that’s a whole different argument anyway.
Sorensen has had a couple good games and it’s a fun story, but it’s probably time to pump the brakes a bit. Let’s meter expectations just a tad: He’s been good, but he hasn’t displaced anyone just yet.