What Are Reasonable Expectations for Patrick Marleau?
Patrick Marleau signed a one-year, $700,00 contract with the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, rejoining the team that drafted him second overall in 1997.
Marleau played the first 19 seasons of his career in San Jose before spending two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But, this Sharks organization is much different than the one he left.
San Jose has had a terrible start to the season, possessing an 0 - 4 record and a league-worst minus-12 goal differential in the post-Joe Pavelski era. They are the only team in the NHL to have played more than two games without earning a single point in the standings.
Signing Marleau is a desperate, albeit low-risk, move by Doug Wilson—who said bringing back the former captain was out of the cards during the offseason.
But what can we reasonably expect from Marleau?
He’s not the 30-plus goal scorer he was from 2009 - 2014, so it leaves us to wonder what role he will play on the team and how effective of a forward he will be.
The above graph shows Marleau’s 5v5 pts/60 from age 28 to age 39.
Marleau had an unusually bad season when he was 28 years old before getting back into form the following year, but we can see his level of production has declined since he turned 31.
Last season, he recorded 1.1 pts/60 at 5v5, which was similar to the production of Melker Karlsson.
If Marleau maintains that pace for the 77 remaining games this year, he would end up with the following point totals depending on his ice time:
Even if he played top-line minutes, Marleau would end up with fewer points than Brenden Dillon had last year.
But what if we factor in power play time as well? With San Jose’s forward group being as thin as it is, it’s not unreasonable to think Marleau will be on the ice when the Sharks have the man advantage.
As we can see from the above graph, Marleau’s power play production plummeted when he turned 37—dropping from 5.2 pts/60 to 3.9 pts/60.
He ended last season with 3.6 pts/60 at 5v4, a slight improvement over the previous year. If Marleau kept up that production and saw time on one of San Jose’s power play units, this is what we can expect from him:
Given his estimated totals at 5v5 and 5v4, we can predict the following production from Marleau based on his deployment:
With the highest usage, Marleau would finish the year with a similar point total to Joonas Donskoi last season. With the lowest, he would be more like Barclay Goodrow.
It’s important to note, however, that there are other variables at play. We don’t know how turning 40 will affect Marleau’s performance, nor do we know how much his linemates will impact his production.
These are merely predictions based on the forward’s statistics last season with Toronto.
Still, Marleau is not someone who is going to single-handedly turn the Sharks around, and at $700,000, Doug Wilson isn’t expecting him to. But, he brings NHL experience to a team that has multiple rookies on the roster.
If anything, he’s a safety net in case prospects like Lean Bergmann and Danil Yurtaikin aren’t NHL ready.