When the unthinkable happened and longtime San Jose Sharks legend Patrick Marleau signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this month, Sharks fans were left in a state of shock. A week later, fans are still picking up the pieces and coming to terms with the fact that life will go on without Patty, but where will his production come from now that he’s gone?
Marleau scored 27 goals and 46 points in 82 games last season and the Sharks will be hard pressed to find a replacement for that production on the free-agent market. With names like Jagr, Iginla and Hudler left on the market, there are some intriguing options, but no sure bets. In fact, it seems like Sharks GM Doug Wilson is content to fill his team’s needs “in house” as evidenced by his comments to Paul Gackle of the Mercury News:
When Wilson asked Timo Meier at Sharks development camp this week whether he needed to find another left winger to fill Marleau’s spot on the roster, the 20-year-old forward responded by saying: “I’m ready.”
Those are some big skates for the 2015 first-round draft pick to fill, but you have to love his confidence. Meier acknowledges that the loss of Marleau will be felt by the entire team, but maintains that he’s ready to take the next step. “Like Jumbo (Joe Thornton) said, Patty’s the best Shark ever, so it’s tough to lose someone like that,” he said. “But it doesn’t change anything for me. I’d go into training camp with the same mentality either way.”
The 20-year old Swiss native scored three goals and six points in 34 games with the Sharks last season, but also tore up the AHL with 14 goals and 23 points in 34 games with the San Jose Barracuda. Look for him to make a huge leap in 2017-18. Is 27 goals and 45+ points asking too much? Probably, but look for sharp increase in his production regardless.