Sharks in Stone Age Playing Brown over Barclay Goodrow

The San Jose Sharks say they want to be a team that rolls four lines. Yet for some reason they continue to employ and frequently utilize one of the worst possession players in the entire NHL, Mike Brown. The truth of the matter is that Brown drags down every line he plays on because he is that bad at hockey.

For comparison’s sake, the year Joe Thornton won the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the league (2005-06), he finished with 125. In that one season alone, Thornton scored four times the amount of points as Mike Brown has managed in his entire eight-year NHL career. A decent fourth-line player pots a team around 15 points per season. Eight seasons in the league for a decent fourth liner would be 120 points. Brown’s career point total? Just 32.

(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

No, the game of hockey isn’t all about points but it is about being better than the player across from you and Brown is almost never better than the players he lines up against. Practically zero offensive contributions, poor possession numbers and no impact on the penalty kill is not good enough in this day and age. With the amount of skill in today’s game, five, six, seven minute per night players do far more to hurt a team than they do to help.

A few years ago, the Sharks employed another fourth-line-only type player in Scott Nichol. The energizer bunny was a fan favorite because like Brown, he gave 100 percent on every shift. Unlike Brown though, Nichol could actually do things on the ice like chip in offensively (.19 points per game compared to Brown’s .08), take a faceoff, and kill penalties. The Sharks never paid Nichol more than $790, 000, yet they are currently paying Brown $1.2 million. If you don’t understand why this is, you are not alone. Nichol was just as tough and physical as Brown. What can Brown do for you? Literally nothing substantial on the ice. Fighting is an endangered part of the sport that becomes more and more obsolete as the years go on.

Instead of playing Brown on a regular basis this year, the Sharks could be playing Barclay Goodrow, who they recently sent down to the AHL Barracuda. In 12 NHL games this season, Goodrow has more points (three) than Brown’s one, has nearly a six percent better Corsi rating and is averaging 10:28 in ice time compared to Brown’s 8:24. There is no questioning the fact that San Jose’s current fourth line of Matt Nieto, Chris Tierney and Brown would look far better as Nieto, Tierney and Goodrow. When you have a player capable of both chipping in offensively and killing penalties (Goodrow’s averaging 1:05 in short-handed ice time compared to just 19 seconds for Brown) and send him down to the AHL, it is hurting the team’s ability to win games.

Just look at this effort by Goodrow on the penalty kill and then eventually setting up Brent Burns for the short-handed goal.

Goodrow uses his size, strength and puck skills to shield off three Avalanche players. This is the type of play that Brown simply cannot give the Sharks because he doesn’t have the puck protection nor stick-handling skill that Goodrow possesses. It makes literally no sense why Goodrow is toiling down in the AHL while the Sharks continue to trot Brown out night after night. Combination of general manager Doug Wilson and head coach Peter DeBoer have done a lot of good things in this game but they, like many in their profession, are too stubborn to realize that tough guys are no longer useful.