Comfortability on the wing, clutch performances, familiarity, and great hair are what describe Patrick Sharp. However, entering the 2017-18′ season, there’s a little more to his game that we’ve missed since his departure in 2015.
Late last week and earlier this week, reports came from the Chicago Blackhawks that forwards Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp arrived in Chicago to practice and get ready for the 2017-18′ season. Per reports, Sharp didn’t look bad.
With a post-season hip surgery, declining production value, increasing age, and a past ridden with concussions, hearing that Sharp is looking well is great. However, there’s more to worry about as the season goes along.
Let’s break it down:
Patrick Sharp was ruled out on three separate occasions last season due to injuries. His first injury happened on October 21st due to concussion-like symptoms, his second occurred less than two months later due to an undisclosed injury (most likely still concussion-like symptoms), and his most recent occurred on March 25th when he had hip surgery. Little known fact, Sharp played a few games with said hip injury, but was ruled out for surgery as the season came to a close.
Sharp’s reoccurring injuries were a warning sign. He’s 35 years old and is entering the final years of his career. Usually at this time, we’ll see players slow down, play less due to soreness or health issues, and they’ll soon call it quits.
I’m not saying this is Sharp’s final rodeo, but he’s had an unfortunate year last season. If the injury trends continue, this season could be a turning point for his end.
Da Windy City
Declining Point Production.
Due to mostly injuries and not-so reliable counter parts the previous year, Sharp hasn’t been so hot on the scoring end. After scoring a career high 78 points (34G, 44A) in 2013-14′ Sharp has been on the decline, especially when he hit the ice in Dallas.
With the Dallas Stars, Sharp started hot. He had 20 goals in 76 games in 2015-16′ and helped during their post-season endeavor, piling on four goals and two assists in 13 games. However, when the next season hit, Sharp hit a major decline.
In 2016-17′, Sharp had a struggled season, only scoring 18 points (8G, 10A) in a total of 48 games. Due mostly to injury, Sharp wasn’t able to be the absolute player he was, but it tore him to his core. Even when he came back healthy, he didn’t seem like himself. He struggled to get the ball rolling and couldn’t produce at his ultimate level.
When you look at this from a much larger perspective, Sharp is on a huge decline. Within four years, he’s had a 60 point difference. Even though 2013-14′ was his final full season, he was only a handful of games away from completing each of the other seasons in the following two years.
Could last year have been a fluke full of unfortunate events? Or was it age and decline? We’ll have to find out this year.
Despite the negativity, there’s a positive spin with Sharp back on the roster this year. Let’s take a look:
Sharp’s best years were when he was in the good ol’ Chicago Blackhawks sweater. With 10 of his 15 years in Chicago, thats obvious. But, with the familiarity of the roster and the ability to compete in a lifting environment, Sharp could actually be on a path for redemption.
Sharp was thrilled to come home for heart, rather for the bank. It was the best for his personal game, as well as his career in general. Whether he plays on the wing with Artem Anismov and Patrick Kane, or if he’s helping out the third line with depth and lifting younger guys with experience, it could be a win-win situation.
Playing with Kane and Anisimov, the two highlighted players on the Hawks the past two seasons, his point production can skyrocket. Not only will Kane’s prime-time hockey lift Sharp, it will enable him to play at the level he can play at; the level we all know he can play at.
There’s plenty of places Sharp can fit in the line-up, which is good for himself and the team. The familiarity will hopefully bring out the best in him, but that will only come with time.
With time comes good health, and we can only be hopeful that he keeps himself in good shape and stays that way throughout the year.
35 is one hell of an age for a player like Sharp. He’s on a race against the clock and he’ll have to defy the hour glass this season to prove everyone wrong. The fact that he’s already on the ice, weeks before pre-season is a great to hear.
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