Matt Irwin may have been the most quiet explosion in the series of fireworks that marked the beginning of the season for the San Jose Sharks. Nearly a month into the season, San Jose just lost its first game—via a heartbreaking last-second goal no less—of the year to the Boston Bruins.
Throughout the last few weeks, the Sharks have presented us with several spectacular and interesting storylines. From the rapid and sudden emergence of Tomas Hertl, to the spectacular netminding of Antti Niemi and the hit from behind on Dan Boyle, there’s been no shortage of water-cooler banter surrounding the boys in teal.
One name that isn’t popping up nearly enough is Matt Irwin.
When you Google his name, you have to sift between results for the hockey player and a fashion photographer, and no one has uttered a word about him this season apparently. That didn’t sit right with us, because the kid has been pretty darn good. In the first game of the season against the Vancouver Canucks, he eclipsed the 20-minute mark in time played.
Usually coaches will get a feel for who they can play a bunch and who they need to protect early on. The younger guys typically end up in that latter group, and don’t play as much as the season wears on. Irwin is averaging a hair over 19 minutes a game right now and has become a staple on the power play for San Jose.
With his defensive partner Dan Boyle on the shelf, the Sharks shook up the power-play unit and Irwin has been firing away over the last few games. He took five shots against the Dallas Stars on October 17. Irwin shot seven times against the Ottawa Senators on October 12. That just screams confidence from the blue line.
He isn’t taking unnecessary risks with the puck though. Irwin hasn’t been a negative player in a single game yet in 2013-14, and is slowly seeing more responsibility added to his plate. Not less.
At 25 years-old, Irwin is just scratching the surface of his potential. San Jose uncovered an undrafted gem here in Irwin, and it’s only a matter of time before you start to see his No. 52 sweaters popping up around the Shark Tank.