Martin Havlat gets closer and closer to returning every day while the San Jose Sharks keep dominating offensively without him. If the tendency is to maintain winning lineups, then the question is a simple one: What will San Jose do with Havlat once he’s ready to make his regular-season debut?
Regardless of when Havlat is ready to play, one has to wonder whether or not it’s worth messing with a good thing just to get him back into the lineup. His struggles with the Sharks have been well documented, and he’s never made the kind of impact that he was supposed to when he arrived two seasons ago.
In 79 games with the Sharks, Havalt has managed all of 15 goals and has missed more than half of his possible games-played due to various injuries. There’s a feeling that if he wasn’t on the shelf rehabbing from offseason surgery on his pelvic floor that it would just be something else.
Honestly, would San Jose be any worse off without him?
To put his destructive lack of production into clearer terms, consider this: Rookie Tomas Hertl has already scored as many goals this season as Havlat did in 2011-12 all together, and is only one away from notching as many tallies as Havlat did through 40 games last season.
All of this in just five games.
Is it worth carving even a single second off of Hertl’s playing time to ice Havlat? At this point, is it even worth taking a guy like Matthew Nieto out of the lineup even though he’s clearly demonstrated that he’s not out of place in the NHL? The answer should be no. Havlat has done nothing to prove that he has the fire and drive to make the Sharks a better hockey club. If the team was desperate to score more goals, inserting a former 30-goal scorer might make sense.
In this instance, it would only shake up a roster that doesn’t require any shaking. Havlat doesn’t have the sandpaper or play style suited for a bottom-six role, and he has no place in San Jose’s top-six. While having a player of his caliber as a depth option is a nice luxury, he shouldn’t be inserted into the lineup as soon as he’s ready.
That would be akin to spitting in the face of the kids that have done everything asked of them to stay in the NHL to this point, and would only serve to rock the boat while sailing is going smoothly. Unfortunately, money plays in the big leagues more often than not, and Havlat’s insane $5 million cap hit will likely guarantee him a spot one he’s good to go.
Not that he’ll be able to lace up the skates for more than 15 games without a random groin pull or injury problem.