Even with all of the moves the Flames have made as of late – and there have been a lot of them – they still have the potential to make more. They’re not up against the cap yet. Their roster isn’t full up yet. They have the space to make another addition, and while it looks like Calgary is ready to go full throttle in the pursuit for a Stanley Cup, why not?
Based on a lot of chatter that’s been floating around the past little bit, we should probably start seriously speculating about the Flames signing Patrick Sharp.
Sharp as of late
Originally drafted in 2001 by the Flyers, Sharp is best known for his time in Chicago. And why wouldn’t he be? He played for them for 10 years, winning three Stanley Cups along the way. (He would also, thereby, be familiar with a number of current Flames: Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, and Kris Versteeg.)
Sharp, over 869 games, has scored 277 goals and 599 points. His career high was 78 back in the 2013-14 season, and he has topped 60 points in five different seasons over the years.
However, Sharp is coming off of an injury-plagued 2016-17 in which he scored just eight goals and 18 points over 48 games. He suffered a concussion at the start of the season that kept him sidelined for much of the first half, and his year ended when he underwent hip surgery back in March. He’s also now 35 years old, so there’s a fair bit of mileage on him; if he were to sign with the Flames, he would become their oldest player, beating out Mike Smith by a couple of months.
However however, there’s good reason to believe Sharp will rebound, particularly if he isn’t playing through injury anymore has a full recovery from surgery. In 2015-16, he scored 20 goals and 55 points with the Dallas Stars.
Here’s one of our favourite stats to look at when determining if a player’s scoring numbers are inflated or not: in 2016-17, he shot at 5.5%, the worst shooting percentage of his career.
|Season||Goals per game||Shots per game||SH%|
There’s no reason to think Sharp has irreversibly fallen off a cliff when it comes to his scoring. An 82-game season in 2015-16 sees him prorated to 22 goals. If he’d shot at the same rate in 2016-17, then he would have been on pace for 22 goals. If he’d shot at his career average – 10.8% – then he’d have been on pace for a 27-goal season. Sharp is still, in all likelihood, a good player who will drive offence and contribute to putting the puck in the net – it’s just that everything that could have gone wrong for him did in 2016-17.
And when Sharp was healthy, he wasn’t spending time with the Dallas Stars’ big guns. This past season, he primarily played with Devin Shore and Radek Faksa – two 33-point players. The Flames might have a little more to offer.
Where would Sharp fit in?
Over the past two seasons, Sharp averaged 16:58 in ice time, which would firmly place him among the Flames’ top six. That wouldn’t necessarily make Sharp a top six player, though, but he would almost certainly play in the top nine.
A right-shooting left winger, there could be a number of spots open for Sharp, depending on how the rest of the lineup shakes out. Could he play alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau? What about joining Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik? Or perhaps he would really help out Sam Bennett by giving him a linemate capable of scoring? Considering Sharp’s pedigree and what he should still very well be able to do on the ice, there isn’t really a wrong answer – he could fit in well with any one of those players, and go a long way towards solidifying the Flames’ top nine.
According to Puckalytics, Sharp was a 50.7% 5v5 CF player in 2016-17 (0.79% relative to the rest of the Stars, so an average corsi player on an average corsi team). Aggregating for this two seasons with the Stars, he was a 52.72% CF player – +1.20% relative – and he was not sheltered by way of zone starts.
In short, Sharp should still be a very capable forward, both when it comes to scoring and driving the play north. If he can recover completely, then it will be all the better.
What would he sign for?
Sharp is 35 years old, and coming off of a five-year, $29.5 million deal. Over the course of his NHL career, he’s made about $47.1 million. He’s made his money, he’s won his Cups – what’s left?
Well, probably to win some more before he retires, which may not be too far off in the distance. In that case, there is a chance Sharp could be willing to forego some salary – but probably not a lot – for some legitimate shots at winning again before his time is up.
That makes Calgary a team of interest. You look at things at face value, and the Flames are a team that was just swept out of the first round. You look a little deeper, and you see they’ve grown a lot over the past couple of seasons. That’s to say nothing of all of these moves that have come over the past week and change that seem to have the Flames declaring themselves a team that’s ready to win right now. That, plus the linemates the Flames can offer, could see Sharp gravitating towards Calgary.
Sharp would be subject to a 35+ contract, meaning he probably won’t be signing for term. But if the Flames’ window is now – and they have basically declared it as such – then term doesn’t matter when it comes to trying to win right now.
The Flames have just under $10 million left in cap space with restricted free agents to re-sign and a couple of holes to fill. They should have just enough left over to afford Sharp, too.
UPDATE: While the rumours of Sharp to Calgary were strong and numerous for some time, it appears he is headed back to Chicago on a cheap deal – one that probably only the Blackhawks would be able to get him to.
So, it was a fun couple of hours!