The long wait is finally coming to an end as San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres gets closer and closer to making his season debut after tearing his ACL against the Anaheim Ducks during the preseason in a collision with Emerson Etem.
Torres, acquired at the trade deadline in the 2012-13 season from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for a third round pick, proved to be a key part to the San Jose lineup in the half season that he was a part of it.
His contribution goes way beyond the numbers, as Doug Wilson rightfully saw when he dealt for him last season. Do not be deceived by his underwhelming six point half-year for the Sharks. He contributes elsewhere, in categories that are just as crucial to winning hockey games as points are. As long as Torres can avoid Brendan Shanahan’s office for the rest of the season, he will affect the Sharks in a big way, and for the better.
If Torres was just any other goon, no one would have sat on the edge of their seat, constantly refreshing their Twitter feed for updates on Torres’ condition as the Sharks and Ducks squared off in preseason action. After Torres went under the knife, the Sharks organization desperately tried to replace him by calling up Matt Pelech, a physical forward from the Worcester Sharks, and trading for notorious goon, Mike Brown. Neither of them could adequately replace Torres’ speed or physical effectiveness, and the only thing we learned from all the roster shifting was that a forward that had the potential to be a huge threat in the eyes of opponents would be watching the greater part of the season from the press box, unable to be replaced.
In the last three years, going back to the Western Conference Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks have been outhit by a combined total of 120 in every playoff series that has ended their season. That is a serious issue and it is one that Torres has the ability to partially cure after the Olympic Break.
He doesn’t have to outhit opponents all on his own, though. Just one big hit and then the crowd is into it and the Sharks will be pumped up and angry. From there, everybody will be trying to get a piece of the guy across from him, whether it be by finishing their check or hitting him in open ice. Without Torres, these situations have been few and far between, but with Torres, look to see a reinvigorated physical presence from the Sharks.