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2018-19 Season Review: Can Rourke Chartier overcome his injury history?

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Chartier has showed promise, but concussions keep derailing his progress.

Oct 18, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Rourke Chartier (60) passes as Buffalo Sabres left wing Evan Rodrigues (71) defends in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Rourke Chartier finally got his first taste of NHL action in the 2018-19 season with the Sharks this season after two seasons of promising seasons with the Barracuda that were both cut short due to concussions. After a very impressive preseason in which he finished tied for third in points with two goals and three assists, Chartier made the Sharks’ opening night roster, and made his NHL debut on Oct. 8 against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn, logging an even 11 minutes of ice time.

Chartier scored his first NHL goal against the Anaheim Ducks, his only point of the season. After a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during which he only logged five minutes of ice time, Chartier was re-assigned to the San Jose Barracuda.

Rourke Chartier player review Getty Images/Fear the Fin illustration by JD Young

Chartier came back to the ‘Cuda and immediately made a scoring impact, scoring six goals and 12 assists. He was well on his way to replicating his production in his first professional season in the 2016-17 season, when he scored 17 goals and 18 assists.

But after the Barracuda’s trip to Iowa in late February, Chartier was scratched from the lineup in their next game against their rivals, the Stockton Heat. Initially, Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said it was a lower-body injury, but Chartier never played another game that season, leading some to believe that he sustained another concussion — something that had been plaguing his career since his first season with the Barracuda.

He sustained a concussion in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs that held him out for the entirety of the Barracuda’ playoff run that saw them eliminated in five games by the eventual Calder Cup Champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Chartier returned to action in November 2017 and played in five games up until Mason Geertsen elbowed him in the head, which once again sidelined Chartier with another major concussion until February 2018. Upon his return to the Barracuda lineup, Chartier immediately made an offensive impact. His five goals and had fourteen assists through the final 23 games helped propel the ‘Cuda to an incredible late-season run in which they won all of their six remaining games to clinch the final Pacific Division seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Career Summary (via HockeyViz)

hockeyviz.com

Chartier exclusively saw fourth-line minutes during his stint with the Sharks, and averaged 9:24 minutes of ice time per game. His most common linemates on the fourth line were Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson. According to Dobber Sports’ line tool, Chartier played with this line combination for 55.83 percent of his ice time. The trio’s offensive metrics were, shall we say, bang-average. They posted a 49.83 percent Corsi for on the season and allowed more expected goals than they created at 5-on-5.

RAPM Chart (via Evolving Hockey)

Even though it was a pretty small sample size, Chartier just didn’t have a very good season offensively. He didn’t create that many expected goals and certainly didn’t score as many as he created. However, he was doing a good job at taking shots and also was solid at limiting expected goals against. If Chartier wants to stick at the NHL level, he will need to work on the defensive side of his game. Barclay Goodrow did the same, and now he’s a staple on the fourth line.

Highlight

Chartier’s first NHL goal came in Anaheim in a 4-3 overtime win against the Ducks.

What comes next?

Given Chartier’s injury history, it’s really hard to say.

He’s set to become a restricted free agent come July 1, and I would expect the Sharks to tender him. Evolving Hockey projects that Chartier will get a one-year contract worth $770,155, but the Sharks like to give their prospects coming off of entry-level deals slightly longer terms, mainly in the two- to three-year region, so it’s entirely possible that if Chartier is signed by the Sharks that it will be longer than a one-year deal.

If he does re-sign with the Sharks, provided that he is ready to play in the upcoming season, there’s a good chance that he will stay on the Sharks’ roster. Chartier is no longer waivers exempt, which means that the Sharks would run the risk of losing him if they tried to send him down to the Barracuda. If he doesn’t make the team out of camp, though, it might be best for him to start with the ‘Cuda once again (provided that he clears waivers) and work his way back up to the NHL, considering that he’s only played 67 games in the past two seasons and will surely be a little rusty coming into camp.

Whatever happens in September, Chartier has certainly showed promise, and to see him become a solid contributor at the NHL level after all the concussions he’s suffered would be one hell of a feel-good story.