Sharks place forward Jonnny Brodzinski on waivers

Not a huge surprise, but also kind of a surprise?

According to Elliotte Friedman, the San Jose Sharks placed forward Jonny Brodzinski on waivers this morning. The Sharks signed the 26-year-old forward this off-season, ostensibly to provide competition in training camp. He suited up for two of the team’s first four games, averaging a team-low (among forwards) eight minutes and 51 seconds of ice time. He attempted six total shots, put four on net, and registered zero points.

Brodzinski’s appearance on waivers is both not surprising but also a bit of a shock. Given head coach Pete DeBoer’s penchant for playing unhelpful veterans over younger/less experienced players with more volatility in their games, one might have assumed we’d see the end of someone like Lean Bergmann or Danil Yurtaykin, first. The other reason his release is somewhat eyebrow raising is that, compared to the other forwards in his time-on-ice cohort, Brodzinski had been playing fairly well.

“Threat,” per creator Micah Blake McCurdy, measures “shot rates weighted by historical goal probabilities from the given locations.” In his short time with the Sharks this season, Brodzinski was helping the team generate dangerous shots offensively. Granted, he did so mainly against the dregs of other teams’ rosters, but he did it nonetheless. If NHL coaches and GMs used the publicly available metrics to evaluate all of their moves, we might have instead seen Marcus Sorensen or Lean Bergmann excommunicated from the Church of DeBoer.

After signing Patrick Marleau to a one-year contract, the Sharks had to make room both on the roster and under the salary cap. The only-slightly-older Marcus Sorensen established himself as an 80-game player under DeBoer last year, and the younger Bergmann’s game is still improving. Dylan Gambrell, who has also played poorly, isn’t likely to be waived outright, which leaves Brodzinski to fall on the proverbial sword for the depth forwards’ performances so far.

This Marleau-for-Brodzinski exchange warrants some skepticism, however. Last year, both forwards contributed little to their respective teams at even strength, but the younger Brodzinski’s isolated impact was less bad (in very few minutes) than that of his elderly counterpart.

The Sharks are hoping for a bounce-back year from Marleau. Whether that bounce back happens or not, Marleau is almost certainly going to play more minutes than did Brodzinski. The player swap comes with its risks: if Marleau has less of a positive impact this year than Brodzinski had so far or his apparent downswing is precipitous, the team may be saddled with a worse or similarly poor player “earning” more minutes.

Our story’s moral: San Jose had to make room, and Brodzinski is probably the best choice for reassignment, even if Marleau’s signing is not without risk.