Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp: What Kind Of Player He Is Today

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 4: Patrick Sharp
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 4: Patrick Sharp /

It’s been just two years since the Chicago Blackhawks and Patrick Sharp were teamed up, but things have changed with the veteran winger

When Patrick Sharp was last in a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, he was holding the Stanley Cup over his head. But with the salary crunch that the ’Hawks have found themselves in for many recent offseasons, the strapped-for-space Blackhawks had to ship Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns away to the divisional rival Dallas Stars after the 2015 Stanley Cup run.

In return, they received defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt, two players who wouldn’t make it to February in Chicago the following year.

Moving Sharp was very bittersweet for many fans. While it was understood that his $5.9 million cap hit was too much for the ’Hawks to hold on to, Sharp was one of the core players who turned the franchise around.

Traded to Chicago during the 2005-06 season, Sharp was around to help mentor players like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews when they were starting off in the league. He had won three Stanley Cups with the team and scored more than 60 points in five of his seasons in Chicago.

Now Sharp returns two years older and a little more beat up (never enough to lose a handsome contest, though). While there is concern with age and injury, he is now on a favorable contract that, with incentives, will only cost the ’Hawks $1 million.

It is this affordable type of contract that Stan Bowman searches for while he continues to battle the salary cap. It is also a discount from what Sharp could have likely got from another team seeking his services. With that in mind, we will look at the two years Sharp spent away in Dallas and what to expect from him with the Blackhawks next year.

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2015-16 season

Sharp’s last season in Chicago was riddled a bit by injury and saw him miss 14 regular-season games. When he left for Dallas, it was uncertain how much he would be able to contribute and how much he could stay on the ice.

Sharp was joining a squad in Dallas that already featured Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky and Cody Eakin in its forward group and John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski on defense. This before also adding former ’Hawk Johnny Oduya in free agency and defenseman Jason Demers during the 2015-16 season. Essentially, the Stars had plenty of talent to go around on their roster, and it showed.

The Stars dominated during the 2015-16 campaign, finishing atop the Western Conference with a 50-23-9 record. Their 267 goals scored were 15 goals more than any other team that year. Playing a strong role in all of it was Sharp, who had a very solid first year in Dallas.

Sharp played in 76 games for the Stars and had 20 goals and 35 assists. The 55 points were good enough for fifth most on the team that led the NHL in scoring. He also tallied an average time on ice of 17:37 and a 53.9 percent Corsi-for mark. All of this as a 34-year-old forward that some thought was over the hill.

The Stars’ season ended in a Game 7 loss in the second round to the St. Louis Blues, but not before Sharp also added four goals and two assists in the playoffs and played in all of Dallas’ 13 postseason games.

Sharp had proven there certainly was something left in the tank. He was a valuable addition to a young and talented Dallas squad ready to compete. Only missing six games on the year and providing 0.72 points per game is more than many were expecting from the now-34-year-old. It felt like big things were to come in Dallas after they finally won their first playoff series since 2008.

2016-17 season

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  • All of the excitement from the 2015-16 campaign had Dallas fans chomping at the bit for the 2016-17 season, but the Stars could never get off the ground.

    A mix of injuries, poor play and bad goaltending had the team giving up the second most goals in the NHL. Meanwhile, their 223 total goals scored was a drop of 44 from a season before. The team hovered around the .500 mark almost the entire year and finished the campaign a disappointing 34-37-11.

    A major player in this disappointment and injury issues was Sharp. He suffered a concussion just four games into the season that had him sidelined for 14 games. When he returned, he was very ineffective, scoring only one point over his seven games back.

    After a December 1 game against the Penguins, Sharp returned to the injured list, still dealing with concussion symptoms. He missed 12 more games before returning at the end of December.

    Sharp continued to play from January through March before missing the final eight games of the year. He was shut down by a hip injury that required surgery. The 34 games Sharp missed on the year all came in three stints from concussion symptoms and his hip surgery.

    The loss of game time and constant battle with injuries, both concussions and the nagging hip, showed on the stat sheet. Sharp finished the year with just eight goals and 10 assists. The18-point total was two short of his mark in 2012-13, a season in which he played in 20 fewer games.

    He was a minus-22 on the year, good enough for dead last on an already disappointing team. However, his Corsi-for percentage was 51.5, which is nothing incredible, but shows the plus/minus total may not be telling the whole story.

    It was Sharp’s worst year statistically and really leaves a question mark about the type of player he can be now.

    2017-18 expectations

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    It is near impossible to know exactly what the Blackhawks are getting in Sharp, who will turn 36 in December. On one hand, he averaged 0.78 points per game in the three seasons leading up to the 2016-17 season. On another hand, he is on the wrong side of 35, dealt with lingering concussion symptoms throughout last season and is coming off a hip surgery.

    How much will the hip issues play an impact on Sharp’s performance this coming year? Well, Sharp has seen the results of hip surgery first hand in Dallas. Benn had double hip surgery right after the 2014-15 season, a year in which Benn won the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the NHL.

    The following year, Sharp’s first in Dallas, Benn returned and played in all 82 games and actually scored two more points than the previous year. But Benn was also 25 when he had his surgeries and not getting near the end of his career.

    Many players have returned from hip surgery before: Benn, Pekka Rinne, Roberto Luongo, David Krejci, Ales Hemsky and Ryan Callahan. But the results are varied and hard to put expectations on as age, position played, healing speed and chance of re-injury are different in every case.

    Best-case scenario: Sharp returns to old form from the seasons prior to last year. He is able to play in 75 games and put up 20 goals and 30 assists paired on the same line as Kane. He is able to help mentor the young players like Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman and keep the ’Hawks near the top of the Western Conference.

    Worst-case scenario: The hip doesn’t heal well, the concussion issues return and linger, Sharp plays in just 12 games and only accumulates three points.

    The likelihood is Sharp will fall somewhere in between these two scenarios. The Blackhawks just have to hope it is somewhere closer to the best case and worth playing him over a young prospect who could use the experience.

    Next: Projecting Chicago's Defensive Prospects

    But at a low cost risk and plenty of skill showcased in his younger days, there is always a chance Sharp has a very positive impact and turns out looking like a steal by the end of the 2017-18 season.