The San Jose Sharks lost one of their premier face-off specialist Joe Pavelski to free agency. Now they must look internally for a replacement.
The loss of Joe Pavelski is a significant blow to the San Jose Sharks specially on offense. But the former captain brought so much more to the Sharks that can not get overlooked. One of the most important aspects to his game was his proficiency in the face-off circle.
Now the importance of a face-off is up for debate. It’s true that it is just another puck battle in a game full of countless others, however the situational importance of these stationary duels for possession often goes understated.
Pavelski took 989 face-offs during 2018 – 2019, finishing with the 2nd best FO win percentage on the Sharks (53.2%), trailing only Barclay Goodrow who took 438 fewer draws than the 35-year-old Dallas Star, per puckbase.
More from Analysis
- Norris Trophy odds show Erik Karlsson a step above the rest
- Korenar deserves a chance at the NHL level
- Three ways the Sharks could move Martin Jones
- San Jose Sharks: Three Keys to Defeating the Chicago Blackhawks
- San Jose Sharks Will Need to “Protect the House” on the Road
That’s a huge chunk of responsibility that needs to get dispersed among a team that really didn’t add any depth to the middle of their lineup. So which skaters will see a bump in usage around the face-off dot this upcoming season?
Previously mentioned Barclay Goodrow could see a jump but his 4th line status likely limits him from taking on significantly more of the workload. Another potential option is Joe Thornton but he appears to be locked into a third line role and likely won’t see that drastic of an uptick in minutes coming into his 40-year-old season.
Logan Couture’s quick hands help him score goals and win puck battles during live play, but when it comes to the face-off dot the 30-year-old forward was inconsistent in 2018 – 2019. Couture only won 46.3% of his face-offs last season while lining up for an average of 7.5 draws per game.
With the loss of the former captain it’ll be up to Logan Couture to help fill the void left by Pavelski. His inefficiency in the face-off dot is really one of the only glaring holes to his game and hopefully he worked on it during the off-season.
Luckily for the Sharks they have another centerman on the team who’s quickly becoming one of most prolific puck battlers in the entire NHL. Tomas Hertl ended the 2018 – 2019 campaign winning 51.5% of his face-offs. He led San Jose in draws per contest with 15.4 and will likely see a spike in that number considering their lack of forward depth.
Both of these skaters will get tasked with taking on a bulk of Pavelski’s face-off duties. The Sharks think very highly of these two players but will be counting on them more than ever in their 29th official season in the NHL.
With all the questions the Sharks are facing when it comes to the void left by Pavelski in the face-off dot all hope isn’t completely lost. San Jose has a few options capable of taking on these high stakes situation. It’ll be fascinating to see how Pete DeBoer portions out these responsibilities throughout the 2019 – 2020 campaign.