Summer Reading - SCH's Season Review: All The Girls Go Crazy...
Only have the four horsemen of the Hawk-ocalypse to go, so let's knock them out to finish out the week. Then we can concentrate on the draft and what has to be some dealing that will come with it. And that will start with the ladies' favorite, one Patrick Sharp.
Patrick Sharp's Stats: 74G 33G 36A 69P +28 38PIM 1.98 Behind The Net -0.017 QofC, 15.72 CORSI
The Good: Pretty much all of it. You can make a serious argument that this was Patrick Sharp's best all-around season, and it was done mostly from the wing, which I never would have guessed. While the Good Time Boys act was in full effect last season, with Sharp consistently fleeing the zone to go get a breeze going between the females' legs and floating around waiting for Kane to hit his tape, we barely saw any of that this season. Sharp was determined at both ends of the ice, while also chipping in on faceoffs that Marcus Kruger couldn't handle. Sharp even showed more of a playmaking aspect to his game this season, as before when he and Hossa were on the same line it didn't feel like it worked. It did for stretches this season, with Sharp deferring more than he has and benefiting from the space and attention Hossa demands. He also was able to still contribute, and even dominate, when playing with Kruger and Stalberg during Toews's absence, both by being finisher and provider and forechecker. In fact, if the Selke were ever to be awarded to a winger, or if that were even a remote possibility, Sharp would have to enter the conversation. He was the Hawks best penalty killing forward as well. It seems as though The Shooter gets better with age.
The Bad: We have to start with the playoffs. While Kane got most of the fan's vitriol, Sharp was just as much of a ghost. And that's the second playoff in a row he has been, save a couple games where the Canucks didn't care in '11. Sharp didn't seem to arrive until Game 5 when the Hawks really started to run the show and were only turned back by the heroism of Mike Smith, and Sharp simply has to be better than that when it counts most. Yes, he's still a player who doesn't create his own shot that much, but that doesn't mean he can't. In fact, Sharp is stronger on his skates than you first think, and in a series like that you wonder if he couldn't do just a bit more on the forecheck when things are so tight like that. Remember, this is a guy who very well might have had a better case for the Conn Smythe two years ago than Toews did, so it's not like he's not a proven playoff performer.
The only other downside with Sharp might not have anything to do with him, and that's the debate over him at center or wing. While this year proved what he can do on a wing, until the Hawks have a proven better option at the pivot (which is not Kane), either the Hawks or Sharp have to get over themselves and use him there more. With the way his game has grown, I don't see why he wouldn't produce as much there as he has from the wing.
The last thing I'll say, and I don't have much ground here but I'll try anyway, is Sharp's leadership. There have been complaints about lack of chemistry on the team or some dissent in the dressing room with coaches and each other. As he wears an "A" and is basically the team's elder statesman now, Sharp has a responsibility to help iron that out. We know that he's the ying to Toews's very serious yang in the room, and that's fine. But it feels like, just feels like, that sometimes Sharp shies from being a vocal leader. He shouldn't, he would have everyone's attention. And considering his close relationship with Senor Cindo de Moron, one wonders if Sharp sitting Kane down and talking to him wouldn't go a long way to getting through to Humpty Hump. Might mean more from a friend and teammate than your boss.
Contract: Entering the first year of his shiny new extension at a 5.9M cap hit.
Stick Around: No need to put anything else here, as Sharp is going to be a big part of this team for a while. Concerns are when does the age and slip that comes with it start to manifest itself. Won't be next year, I don't think. And it feels like the Hawks are going to jump through several hoops backwards to keep him on the wing. Quite frankly, all that should be asked of Sharp in that scenario is the same again, with a presence in April and May.