The San Jose Sharks have a habit of overvaluing Melker Karlsson, and it’s hurting the team.
San Jose Sharks forward Melker Karlsson was a fan favorite from the gate, but fan love doesn’t mean you’re a top six forward.
It’s easy to hide a player when the puck is regularly hitting the back of the net and you can shelter him around talented players. It’s not so easy when the bounces aren’t going your way and the safety net is stripped away.
Melker Karlsson has a negative possession impact on San Jose’s legitimate top six forwards. Every single one of them. Granted, there’s varying degrees of ice time but the trend remains the same.
That is horrific. There really is no other way to put it than that.
Let’s look it at from a different point of view. Here are the percentage points better that each players lines are without Melker Karlsson.
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While Karlsson hasn’t had a chance to play significant minutes with players like Donskoi and Meier, that’s a poor excuse. The trend speaks for itself, even in the higher TOI instances.
Karlsson has a negative effect on the Sharks top players. It’s not a good look for a player in the first year of a contract that runs through the 2019-2020 season (CapFriendly).
Aside from this, Karlsson is enjoying the worst 5v5 offensive production rate (1.25 P60) of his career. He also has an overall relative Corsi of -9.01%, meaning the Sharks get pumped in possession when he’s on the ice.
No one, other than Paul Martin and his three games (40 5v5 TOI), allows more shot attempts per 60 minutes of 5v5 than Melker Karlsson. When it comes to shot attempts for, Karlsson ranks 5th worst of all 24 Sharks with 5v5 TOI. He’s only bested (in a bad way) by Joel Ward, Danny O’Regan, Marcus Sorensen and Justin Braun.
It’s a great thought, having a $2M player in the top six, but is it a good one? Well, it’s only a good thought if it works, otherwise it’s just poor personnel deployment.
Even with and injury to Thornton, there’s no excuse to purposefully place Melker Karlsson in the top six forward group. It just doesn’t work, and I’m not sure it has for a very long time.
The Karlsson experiment has failed. It’s time to keep him heavily sheltered in the bottom half of the forward group or trade him. There’s a statistical pattern to suggest that the 27 year old doesn’t fit and, as a result, it’s time to move on.