Sharks Rookies Keeping San Jose Afloat in Rough Waters

At the time of writing, the Sharks are sitting in the 6 seed of the playoffs. With 53 points, they are four points clear of the chasing teams. However, this season has been anything but glamorous for Team Teal. Injuries, low production, and the usual calls for McLellan and Wilson’s jobs have made this season a bumpy one. Who has come to the rescue? Naturally, the kids you’ve never heard of! The Sharks rookies have been critical to survival this year.

Sharks Rookies Pulling Their Weight

Four guys have stepped up for Todd McLellan’s boys this season. These four have played more than a dozen games. Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson, Mirco Mueller, and Barclay Goodrow each contribute in their own ways.

Chris Tierney

Sharks rookies
(Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

At twenty years old, Tierney is the second youngest of the new kids on the ice. Most of his body of work came early on in the season, but Chris Tierney has made an impact, if however slight. His foot speed impressed coaches and frustrated opposing defenses. He fit very well with Tommy Wingels on the third line that provided the Sharks with invaluable energy and forechecking.

Naturally, as a kid who can’t even drink legally, he’s got a lot to learn. But Tierney has shown flashes of his talent this season. His aforementioned speed combines with his disregard for personal safety as he has no issues doing dirty work along the boards or flying straight at opponents.

Barclay Goodrow

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Of the Sharks rookies, no one else has laced them up more than Barclay Goodrow. And for whatever reason he is the most trusted of all the rookies. His zone start percentage is under 40% this season. Starting most of his shifts with his back inches from his own netminder makes his numbers skew south. So, if you’re seeing this and getting antsy in your seat, take that into consideration.

At even strength, spending most of his ice time with James Sheppard (not exactly Sidney Crosby) and beginning shifts in his own zone his numbers are bound to be low. He’s a -5, owns a -6.0 Corsi For relative, and -5.5 Shots For relative. But Goodrow has also been a fantastic student. He does his job no matter what line he is put on, and he has spent time on each one this season. His points per 60 is above one, however. That ranks him alongside Tomas Hertl in San Jose.

Mirco Mueller

The kid I raved about at the beginning of the season, Mirco Mueller has been crucial to surviving the cutthroat Western Conference.

With a patchwork defense behind the venerable Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mueller has been a godsend. He’s young and has tremendous upside. While he is not too offensively gifted, his positioning and hockey IQ shows signs of a veteran already.

An important thing to remember of these Sharks rookies is how little they have played in the league. Mueller is putting up defensive numbers on par with his linemates, however. His advanced stats are impressive. His CF% is at 53.1, he is well over 50% in goals for as well. So far, he has even managed to be a plus in the shot differential column. As I mentioned, his positioning and IQ are all developed well beyond his 19 years.

Melker Karlsson

The prize gem of the Sharks rookies is far and away Melker Karlsson. Coming out of nowhere, he simply reeled off five straight games with goals. He is paired with James Sheppard most often, much like Barclay Goodrow. But unlike Goodrow, his offensive numbers are impressive. He already has 10 points in only 16 games this season.

Sharks rookies
(Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

Whether or not his production is possibly sustainable (it’s not), Karlsson has shown a fearless desire for goal. He’s earned a spot on the second power play unit and utilizes his footspeed to make things tough on opponents. He embodies teammate Tommy Wingels’ philosophy of out-working opponents.

The Kids Are Alright

They may not be taking the hockey world by storm like Tomas Hertl. But, these Sharks rookies are winning games all the same. Without these kids, the Sharks wouldn’t be able to ice a complete team. But that goes without saying. It’s easy to stop an offense that relies on four shooters (Marleau, Couture, Pavelski, Burns). But these young role players have made the Sharks not only competitive, but threatening. Every game they play is more and more experience they gain.

6 thoughts on “Sharks Rookies Keeping San Jose Afloat in Rough Waters”

  1. Mueller is flat out not ready for the NHL, though lack of a suitable right-handed partner hasn’t helped the matter. Thing is, the Sharks really have no way to send him to the minors (something about contracts that prevents him from being sent to Worcester) and no real use for him on the big club now. Goodrow and Karlsson have been finds. Goodrow looks like a 4th line player, something the Sharks have in abundance. I liked what I saw from him in preseason and he looks like he’ll have an NHL career. But his ceiling isn’t very high. Karlsson projects above that, and is really the only person who really has been a guy who can make a difference in the near term. Sharks have a good top 6 and then a bunch of guys ho you’d be OK with on a 4th line — its gettting that 3rd line that matters. Karlsson might be able to help in that regard.

  2. Your title is: “Sharks Rookies Keeping San Jose Afloat in Rough Waters” . Not really consistent with your 1:37 post.

  3. Uhm…Chris Tierney hasn’t played much at all and to be honest hasn’t looked great. his face-off percentage is abysmal and other than being better than say Mike Brown there isn’t much else to say. Sure he has room to grow but Tierney hasn’t done anything to help the Sharks succeed.

    • Hey Kyle. Thanks for the read and feedback. No, Tierney hasn’t played tons lately, but you can’t discount what he’s shown. These aren’t going to be mind-blowing stats. They’re kids after all. Besides Karlsson, this is to talk about potentials

  4. holy crap….do you even watch the games?? You do realize that Mueller hasn’t played in weeks because of his weak play, right?? (his participation in the world juniors was nothing more than a convenient way for McClellan to get him out of the lineup.) Besides Karlsson, please provide some statistics that actually support your hypothesis. Suggesting that somebody is a ‘fantastic student’ may have passed for ‘journalism’ for whatever college newspaper for which you were co-editor but that hack nonsense isn’t going to fly in the real world. I suggest that you actually watch the team and write articles (or ‘blogs’ or whatever this is) that are relevant to what is happening instead of fluff pieces that aren’t supported by any facts.

    • Jeff, thanks for the read and feedback. I’m sorry to disagree with you about these guys. I meant to talk about how they are showing promising potential out there. Yes, Melker has shown more than just that and I believe the article reflects that. But not everybody’s first season is going to sparkle like Crosby or Ovechkin. I believe they have shown more than the stats can.

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