Which Sharks Get the Best Bang For Your Buck?

Sharks salaries
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sharks salaries are important to examine. Shouldn’t the guys making the most be doing the most for your team? In a perfect world, the high salary guys would have a clear production increase over the entry level contracts. As Sharks fans can understand, however, this world is far from perfect. Let’s take a look at how the players are producing versus the “moolah” they rake in.

Note: all statistics are at even strength

The Forwards

Is John Scott that bad for the money? Is Joe Thornton still worth his contract? How bad is Marleau’s season? The forwards are analyzed by their point production in this first chart. Salaries on the x-axis and points per 60 on the y.

Sharks salaries
The production of the Sharks forwards

The trendline indicates what the money thinks these forwards should be producing. Above the line is exceeding their contract expectations while below is struggling (keep in mind, the trendline is only for salaries on the Sharks, not league wide). Here’s what we learn.

  • The elite guys are pulling their weight. Thornton exceeds his contract the most among the veterans
  • Patrick Marleau, however, is well under where he should be. His gap between the trendline is second largest only to John Scott (surprise!)
  • John Scott is still bad at hockey
  • Surprisingly, Tommy Wingels, isn’t producing much
  • The Melk Man and Chris Tierney are the brilliant performers among rookies this season
  • Goodrow, Nieto, and Hertl are not a statistically significant distance from the average production
Sharks salaries
Defensive output of Sharks Forwards

Here are the defensive numbers of these forwards. Here, below the trend is good while above is bad. While not as important as it is to defenders, it is important to see who plays both sides of the puck. The difference between high priced players and the rookies is minuscule. This can be attributed to higher paid players having to defend against the best competition of the NHL.

  • Joe Pavelski stands out as a shut down forward, if there is such a thing
  • Matt Nieto and Patty Marleau are piss poor on defense
  • John Scott is hilariously worth the money defensively, but it’s hard to trust his small sample size

The Defensemen

The debate over Brent Burns’ deployment will rage forever, it seems. Is he pulling his weight? How good has Vlasic been? As they are defenders first and foremost, we look at the goals against per 60. Check the results out.

Sharks salaries
Sharks defensemen and their ability to keep the puck out of the net

The most curious part of the data discovered is that the more expensive Sharks d-men get, the more goals they allow. This may have to do with their use against the tougher competition, but it is a counter-intuitive trend, nonetheless. Marc-Edouard Vlasic isn’t the best at keeping Niemi bored, as you would expect. Instead, that honor belongs to the cheapest d-man the Sharks have, Matt Tennyson.

Sharks salaries
Sharks who contribute offensively

Defenders don’t make a whole lot of money in the NHL. They just aren’t as valued as the scorers up front. This chart shows how the defenders attack. Irwin and Braun are scoring the highest over their contracts’ expectations. Burns is unsurprisingly the top scorer, but because he makes so much more than anyone else, the trendline rises up to meet him.

What We’ve Learned About Sharks Salaries

First off, the Sharks youngsters are hovering around their expected outputs. That is, with the exception of Melker Karlsson and Matt Tennyson. These two are vastly outperforming their contracts and are bargains for the front office. While it has only been one good season for these two, it will be an interesting trend to watch. Chris Tierney has come around recently to be a good find as well. He has bounced back from his rough start.

sharks salaries
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

The elite players are all scoring like elite players should, with the exception of Patrick Marleau. But this isn’t to say he isn’t worth the money. His defense is the more concerning stat. While playing against the tough competition, Patty has not been at his best on D. His linemate, Logan Couture is just above the average. Whether this is Marleau getting caught on long shifts or Logan bailing on plays is irrelevant. Over the course of the season, those numbers should balance out.

Also, Joe Pavelski is the anti-John Scott out there. Both graphs laud his production this season. He is a bargain even at how expensive he is.

sharks salaries
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Last, we have the enigma that is Brent Burns. His offensive production is not nearly as economically beneficial as that of Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. Keep in mind, the offensive production trend for defenders would be nearly flat if he wasn’t back there (implying that there is no difference between expensive contracts and entry levels).

Should High Salary Earn More Ice Time?

While we cannot say that salaries correlate to production in today’s NHL (some high priced players score, some don’t), when we look at the data closely we can see the story. High salaries demand high time on ice totals. But if the production isn’t there, should they still earn that time? Bargain players can allow the front office to save up for prized free agents. Free agents that cost a little more than John Scott. If you choose the right guys, those gambles will pay off.