clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Player Power Rankings, Week 1: Fear those Finns

New, comments

A bump down to the third line is proving that Kane is able.

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 03: Antti Suomela #40 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center on October 3, 2018 in San Jose, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Welcome to Fear the Fin’s weekly(ish) player power rankings. Who had the biggest impact, the best goals or the prettiest smile in the week that was and who you should totally grab off of waivers in your fantasy league to stick it to Derek in accounts receivable. All rankings subject to the whims of fate and whatever we’re feeling in the moment.


Their 1-1-0 record may not look like much, but the Sharks looked real this week. San Jose’s shot attempt share of 66.48 percent led the league through Sunday, and their shot attempts per 60 minutes of play ranked second at 74.91. Some excellent goaltending from Pacific division rivals John Gibson and Jonathan Quick combined with some less excellent goaltending from Martin Jones gives us the .500 record you see before you, but fans should be optimistic going forward.

One of the dominant takeaways from this week’s games has been the play of the Sharks’ third line. They aren’t putting up empty calorie numbers, either: Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi sit in the Sharks’ bottom five in offensive zone face-off percentage (in the high 50s, since the Sharks have been spending so much time over there), and they’re making the most of their few opportunities, so they’ll deservedly dominate this week’s rankings.

1. Evander Kane

Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Season 2 2 0 2 2 2 10 71.1
This Week 2 2 0 2 2 2 10 71.1

The Sharks trade deadline acquisition and very wealthy man Evander Kane was everywhere this week. With a goal in both games, Kane is on pace for an 82-goal season, which would be the highest total in the NHL since Brett Hull in 1991, but it is also a very silly thing to say. Kane also leads the Sharks in shots on goal at ten, four more than second place inhabitant Joonas Donskoi. This should come as no surprise if you’ve been paying attention, as Kane is anything but hesitant with the puck, and knows where to put it. His goal against Quick on Friday night is a great example of his accuracy, but there’s so much more going on in this goal he scored on Wednesday against the Ducks:

As his linemates go for a change, Kane sees an opportunity to get around and behind Pontus Aberg. Once he gets the puck, he absolutely embarrasses Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, poking the puck between the poor fella’s legs en route to a five-hole goal on Gibson. That goal might be worthy of a place in this list all by itself. Maybe that contract’s not so bad... eh, it probably still is, but this is fun, hey?

2. Antti Suomela

Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Season 2 0 1 1 1 2 3 81.07
This Week 2 0 1 1 1 2 3 81.07

Continuing our third line love this week, brand new Finnish center Antti Suomela has done a great deal of work to fill the void left in our hearts by the departure of my best friend Chris Tierney. The superlatives come in waves with this kid: he leads the Sharks in shot attempt share at 80.56 (!), in relative shot attempt share at 17.54 (!), and has helped to create perhaps the Sharks’ greatest scoring threat this young season. I know I said we wouldn’t look at Kane’s goal in Los Angeles but dadgummit, here we are anyway:

There are so many good decisions in this one shift. As soon as the puck goes behind the net and it’s clear it won’t pop out to the slot, Suomela moves to cut off Kings winger Nate Thompson on the half wall. He holds the blue line as he watches Donskoi move in and, as soon as the donkey has clean possession, Suomela comes in to support, knowing that Justin Braun is behind him to cover the point. After picking up the puck with speed and chipping it off to Kane, Suomela drives into the slot, both drawing defenseman Oscar Fantenberg away from Kane and putting himself in position to pounce on any rebound.

Ain’t no rebound coming off of a shot like that, though.

3. Tomas Hertl

Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Season 2 1 0 1 1 0 5 60.49
This Week 2 1 0 1 1 0 5 60.49

Listen, this is no space for coddling or for sugar coating: Tomas Hertl’s place on this list is not because of his fancy stats (he has the lowest shot attempt share on the Sharks) or his crazy box scores. It is entirely because of what he did to Cam Fowler with a short handed goal against the Ducks on opening night. Well, almost entirely — it’s also a little because of how adorable he is when his teammates butcher his native language. That smile!

Hertl creates this entire play out of one interrupted pass. The chip of the pass and the between the legs play to turn Fowler inside out twice are the obvious highlights, but look at how Hertl gains body position on Brandon Montour just past the Ducks’ blue line. Hertl gets his right elbow just in front of Mountour’s left shoulder. Because he knows that Mountour can’t get past his giant, um, frame, Hertl has just enough time to sweep the puck out of Fowler’s reach over to the boards, where he can humiliate him some more. After a play like that, the finish is almost an afterthought. Almost.

4. Timo Meier

Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Season 2 1 0 1 1 0 5 67.93
This Week 2 1 0 1 1 0 5 67.93

The pile of preseason think pieces predicting Timo Meier’s breakout may not have to wait long for vindication. The 2015 ninth overall pick played this week like he was made for heavy California hockey, and on Friday, showed a preternatural knack for very obscure anatomy. Meier’s five shots sit in a four-way tie for third on the team, but his contributions have largely come from overpowering opposing players along the boards, stealing pucks and incapacitating Drew Doughty with magic.

Cutting outside of Adam Henrique and Fowler along the boards is one thing, but watch how Meier turns both of his skates parallel just past the face off dot. He pushes his hips back into Fowler to keep his center of gravity back and down and reaches an arm out to prevent any errant stick checks. It’s a great piece of physical control and dominance that may not get enough attention since it didn’t result in a goal.

5. Kevin Labanc

Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Time Games Played Goals Assists Points Primary Points Penalty Minutes Shots on Goal 5v5 adj Corsi for %
Season 2 1 0 1 1 0 4 63.54
This Week 2 1 0 1 1 0 4 63.54

Kevin Labanc played hero on Friday night in Los Angeles, guiding a puck past Quick in what should be a pretty familiar fashion. That goal itself is something we’ll dig into in a bit, but with it, Labanc is making the most of his ice time. The former Barrie Colt is second on the Sharks in goals per sixty minutes of ice time and, with such a small sample size, that could mean very little, but Labanc is also fifth on the squad in shots on goal per sixty minutes. That kind of effective use of his time should draw more opportunity from the coaching staff.

Labanc scored a similar goal off of a point shot from Erik Karlsson during the preseason, but there’s more to this one. You can just barely see Labanc take a glance back right before he tosses the puck to Logan Couture at the offensive blue line, and it looks like it was sneaky enough to fool a back checking Jeff Carter. Even with the look, Labanc’s pass is beautiful, and that’s what creates the mismatch in the zone. Tyler Toffoli was looking to change, but as Labanc curls the puck back he changes his mind and loses a step on the rush. Toffoli is gassed at this point, and can’t keep up with Labanc as he drives to the net and bounces a perfect pass under Quick’s pad.

And the rest:

Joonas Donskoi:

As the third member of the DSK line (we need a new name for that), Donskoi was a positive impact player pretty much everywhere. He was second on the Sharks in shots per sixty minutes, second in shot attempt share, and fourth among forwards in even strength ice time. Whatever happens during Joe Thornton’s absence, this line has to stay together, Peter, thanks for reading.

Martin Jones:

Jones had a rough go of it this week, but he started to redeem himself during the latter half of Friday’s contest in L.A. After allowing some soft goals to Maxime Comtois (his NHL first, a San Jose Sharks tradition), Brandon Montour and Tyler Toffoli, he made a few great stops to hold on until overtime, including this larceny on (checks notes) Austin Wagner?

50. Joe Thornton:

Joe Thornton shaved his beard and then went back onto injured reserve with an aggravation of his knee injury. Maybe it’s a Samson thing, maybe the beard had protective properties, I’m not saying those two things are related, but I’m not not saying that either.

Cam Fowler:

Just for being a good sport. I really didn’t come into this piece just to rag on Cam Fowler, he is very good and probably a very nice boy who loves his mother.