The Chicago Blackhawks will be reporting to training camp in the next two weeks, and before the team reunites in South Bend, we are finishing up our 2013-14 player evaluations.
Today, our evaluations get a bit more handsome as Patrick Sharp’s season is discussed.
In a season where several of their top players were sidelined with injuries, Sharp had arguably his best offensive campaign as a professional. He not only set career highs in both assists (44) and points (78), but he also led the Blackhawks in shots per 60 minutes (12.1) and scored 34 times to help boost the offense.
Most impressively of all for the veteran winger was that he finally made a dream come true when he was selected to Team Canada for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He didn’t get to play in every game, but when he was on the ice he looked like he belonged out there with the world’s elite, and the gold medal he got with his teammates is certainly illustrative of that.
The only real downside to Sharp’s season came in the playoffs. He looked sluggish at times as the postseason wore on, and by the time the Blackhawks lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final, Sharp had been relegated to the third line and his production understandably suffered as a result.
His possession numbers dipped significantly in the playoffs, with his Corsi For percentage dropped nearly 11% and his shot percentage went from a respectable 10.9% to a disappointing 8.3%. Sharp’s points per game total dipped significantly as well, with only five goals and five assists in 19 games to his credit.
Best Game of 2013-14:
Sharp did have a four-assist game against the Dallas Stars in November, and he also had several three point games to his credit, but when he scored a hat trick against the Colorado Avalanche just four days after scoring twice against the New Jersey Devils, he made his biggest mark on the season. That game showed everything that Sharp is about, with speed, offensive awareness, and a willingness to fire shots in from everywhere as the Hawks won handily.
Outlook for 2014-15:
Sharp is going to be a guy that’ll bounce around a bit on lines in the upcoming year. If Teuvo Teravainen ends up coming up, Sharp could see some more time on the third line for the Blackhawks, but until that situation comes up he will likely start the year with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews on the top line. He could also slide down to the second line if Joel Quenneville wants to move Brandon Saad up in the lineup, and he would find a nice home there with Patrick Kane and Brad Richards.
Whatever the case may be, Sharp’s primary focus should still be on his offensive prowess, as he is still one of the team’s best goal scoring options. Defense from him is merely an added bonus, so we’ll see how he performs in that area once the season begins.