Finishing with a 21-28-7 record in a shortened season, it’s time for the San Jose Sharks to consider shaving lackluster players from their roster. One such player who should be dismissed from his post is Marcus Sorensen. Sorensen has been incapable of establishing himself as an offensive force since he arrived in San Jose in the 2016-2017 season.
Even though he’s been offensively invisible during his tenure in teal, he’s still getting a questionable amount of ice time. It’s unclear if San Jose’s top brass believe Sorensen’s capable of turning a corner or if they simply aren’t convinced they can find a better alternative within their prospect pool. Regardless of management’s thoughts, Sorensen is occupying a spot on the team that could be filled by more promising talent.
It goes without saying that Sorensen’s offensive production has played a minimal role in the Sharks’ success over the past five years. His most productive year was during the 2018-19 season, where he put up 17 goals, 13 assists and 30 points over the course of 80 games. Though not top-tier numbers, it’s still respectable. This happened to be the only season Sorensen has managed to a 70-game threshold in a regular season. But more on his health in a bit.
The 2018-19 season was an unusually good season for the Swedish-born 29-year-old. The only other season where he pushed beyond the 15-point mark was last season, putting up seven goals and 18 points over 66 games.
Sorensen has averaged just 12.8 points per season since he’s been with the Sharks. For the amount of time he’s allowed on the ice—averaging 12 minutes of ice time over five years—one would think he’d be able to generate more offense than he has. While he’s been a healthy scratch a number of times during his time in San Jose, he’s also had the opportunity to prove himself by playing on the same line, at times, with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Not only is he not a threat on the offensive side of the puck, but he also seems to be on the ice when the opposing team manages to capitalize on opportunities. His plus-minus over the five years has been minus-13, which isn’t terrible if your line is producing numbers of its own. But this isn’t the case with Sorensen.
It may just be the case that he needs a change of scenery. It’s impossible to say what kind of chemistry he could create with other lines in the league, but one thing’s for certain: San Jose is not that place.
Coming Up Short
Another alarming dimension to the Sorensen situation is his cap hit. While it’s likely that he won’t be returning for the 2021-22 season due to his UFA status, it’s still worth addressing the Sorensen’s cap hit was $1.5 million. This amount of money is still too much for what the Sharks could be getting.
It’s difficult to say who would be able to permanently fill Sorensen’s spot who’s already within the San Jose system, but it’s likely someone who could be signed for less than what Sorensen’s been getting paid. Even working someone like Joel Kellman into the lineup this upcoming year could be beneficial if Sorensen is released due to free agency. Kellman has shown promise with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL but hasn’t been able to cross the threshold into a mainstay of NHL play.
The prospect of shipping Sorensen to another team may also prove to be a challenge. Many believed he was going to be traded during this past trade deadline, but it didn’t pan out. It’s unclear what kind of team would want a player who has shown little offensive potential, especially as we enter the offseason. And it could be that whoever is acquired in a potential trade for Sorensen would be a little better than the young players already in the San Jose prospect pool.
San Jose’s attraction to Sorensen in 2016 was his speed. For any competitive team nowadays, there’s an acknowledgement that speed is almost required for a productive offensive unit.
The Hockey Writers noted that “what sets him [Sorensen] apart a bit from Donskoi and Karlsson, though, is his speed. Highlight clips show him blazing past defenders and cutting in on net for scoring chances. Hockey’s Future describes him as a ‘fast but light forward with strong stickhandling and passing skills.'”
But this, again, hasn’t panned out for the Sharks. It’s tough having high hopes for a prospect that ends up manifesting as a third-line placeholder, at best. And unfortunately, that’s what it’s boiled down to.
Sorensen’s somehow been floating on the third and fourth lines (when he’s not scratched) since he was brought on the team, despite the many other changes that have been made to the roster over the years. It seems that he’s little more than a placeholder. This is not sustainable for a club that seriously wants to get back to top form. Every player needs to be contributing in a net positive way.
Despite his skating ability, Sorensen doesn’t provide reliable depth to a team that’s been struggling to find its game over the past two years. At 29 years of age, it’s reasonable to let him go and invest in younger players that need NHL experience and who can provide depth without being perceived as a filler. This will also be the difficulty in trading him somewhere. San Jose will have to convince another organization that Sorensen has something to off their club, and I just don’t see that happening.
During this time, San Jose’s management could have been preparing younger players to fill that void. And perhaps that’s exactly what they’re doing, but it begs the question of why Sorensen still finds a spot on the roster. It’s not necessarily the case that the Sharks would need to find a goal-scorer to replace Sorensen, but they would certainly need to find someone who has a higher ceiling and has the ability to play a two-way game without getting caught on the ice when the opposition scores.
As with many youngsters who grow up in the Midwest, CG played a lot of hockey. His love and appreciation for the game is why he’s here, writing for The Hockey Writers, covering his two favorite teams: the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens. But he writes other things, too, including a novel entitled Project: Sleepless Dream. You can find him on Twitter @CGHockeyWriter.