For Radim Simek, the defining characteristic of his NHL career may sadly be his health. Simek could not string together a consistent series of games in yet another season.
Simek started this season healthy and ready to play. It looked like he could serve as a depth defenseman that the Sharks desperately needed. However, in mid-November, he missed several games due to a concussion. Simek has struggled with concussions in the past. He returned to the team in late November only to be sidelined again at the start of 2023. Simek returned to the lineup before the 2022-23 season ended.
Simek’s 2022-23 production
Simek played just 44 games for the Sharks this season, which has become more of the norm for the defenseman. He has never played more than 48 games in a single season, with his lowest number being 36 games in 2021-22.
|Games Played||G||A||P||PIM||+/-||SOG||Shooting %|
While Simek is not expected to be an offensive defenseman, his numbers simply do not merit his place in the lineup. Three points in 44 games isn’t good enough.
Is Simek is a below league average defenseman?
The number might be palatable if Simek was exceptional on defense. However, he is not. Simek averaged 14:37 of ice time per game this season. During those minutes, he did not drive the play and, in some cases, may have hindered it.
Looking at Simek’s regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart for this past season, you see that Simek was an offensive liability. RAPM is the stat that evaluates a player’s performance based on the situation he is placed in (i.e., zone starts, competition, home/away, etc.).
At even strength, Simek’s expected goals for per 60 minutes of play (xGF/60) was slightly above league average. However, with Simek on the ice in those situations, the team did not score as much as it should have. His goals for per 60 minutes of play (GF/60) was well below league average.
If his expected goals against per 60 minutes of play (xGA/60) were in the upper echelon of the league, the Sharks might be able to make a case to keep Simek in the lineup. However, Simek was just below league average this past season in xGA/60. If a player is not scoring and they’re not providing league average defense, then there’s no true argument for them to stay.
Unfortunately for Simek, this appears to be the norm.
From 2019-2022, two things stand out in Simek’s RAPM chart. First, his GF/60 is consistently below his xGF/60. This means that while the Sharks may have been in a situation to score, when Simek was on the ice, the team was less likely to convert on those chances.
Second, there is a large drop off from his xGA/60 this season compared to the three season span (2019-22) prior. In the three seasons prior, Simek was a cut above league average in preventing the other team from scoring. Him dropping below league average this season is a potential sign that his one asset, defense, is going by the wayside.
Simek’s future with the Sharks
Simek is not up to the standards a contending hockey club would want on defense. An eye test of his play this season could tell you that. He bottled lightning in a single season playing alongside Brent Burns but has yet to find that magic again.
Simek is entering the final year of his contract. His AAV is $2.25 million, well above his actual value to the team.
San Jose cannot trade him because no one wants his contract. If they did, General Manager Mike Grier would have already made the deal. It’s not worth a buyout because there’s only one year left on the deal and we’re not expected to be any better this season than last season.
Simek will finish out this year, potentially as the seventh defenseman and then he’ll be released in the summer of 2024 as a free agent.
Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out the player reviews for the San Jose Sharks. We realize there were a lot of guys rotating into and out of the lineup and some of the key depth players were traded. As a result, Fear the Fin plans to focus on the players that are 1) still with the Sharks and 2) played 20 or more games for San Jose this season.