Mikkel Boedker had plenty of suitors as he hit unrestricted free agency. At 26, he was among the youngest top-six forwards available. He’s one of the faster players in the game. And, while his career highs of 19 goals and 51 points are modest, he never played with top-end talent before the Arizona Coyotes traded him to the Colorado Avalanche at this year’s deadline. Still, of all the teams seeking help on the wings…the San Jose Sharks? They already have one of the deepest forward corps in the league. The first line of Joe Thornton between Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski is dominant. Logan Couture, the second-line center, led the 2016 playoffs in scoring. Joel Ward brings thunder and clutch scoring from the third line. Patrick Marleau serves as a swingman who can play in the top six or center the third unit. Youngsters Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson have shown flashes. First-round picks Nikolay Goldobin and Timo Meier should get their chances eventually.
So the Sharks didn’t top many pundits’ lists of Boedker suitors – certainly not mine. But perhaps GM Doug Wilson saw a deal he simply couldn’t pass up. Boedker for $16 million over four years? Not bad at all. Given he’s never gotten an extended look with elite teammates, he could improve on his career highs, meaning he’d outperform his $4-million cap hit. And four years only pays him until he’s 30, so the term is no anchor. Inking Boedker and depth D-man David Schlemko one summer after adding Ward, goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Paul Martin tells us the Sharks intend to contend again in the Western Conference next year. They jumped from out of the playoffs to Stanley Cup finalist and clearly intend to take another shot with their veteran-laden group. Speaking of veterans, though…does Boedker’s presence nudge Marleau closer to the trade block? Wilson voiced his commitment to Marleau after the season, but we know Marleau several months ago he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to the Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers or L.A. Kings. He’s 36 and, assuming Boedker plays in the top six, Marleau might be a $6.67-million third-liner. The situation at least bears watching going forward. The Anaheim Ducks sure could use a veteran winger after losing David Perron and Jamie McGinn in free agency. Just sayin’.
WHAT ADVANCED STATS SAY: Boedker is one of those guys most analytics types would’ve told you to avoid, especially at some of the rumoured prices floating around. At $4 million for four years the deal isn’t as bad as it might’ve been, but Boedker is still an overrated piece for what he brings to the table. Mostly, he’s a power play specialist that could help rejevunate San Jose’s second unit and even draw some penalties of his own. But at 5-on-5 he’s a bit of a liability. His defensive play is suspect and he doesn’t drive as much offense as you’d like from someone credited for his offensive ability. He also produces points at a sub-par rate per minute, more in line with most third liners than a top-six guy. He could fit well in San Jose’s system and brings a great speed element, but he’s just not as good as his raw point totals suggest he is.
By Dominik Luszczyszyn