On Tuesday, Canada will announce the roster for their men’s hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics. There are a lot of great options for the staff to choose from, but one name that should be on their list is Chicago’s Patrick Sharp.
Let’s take a look at the case for Sharp to be part of Canada’s roster.
A lot has been made about chemistry being part of Canada’s decision making process; they have reportedly considered partnering Chris Kunitz with Sidney Crosby, and the San Jose Sharks – who sent an entire line together in 2010 – have been talked about having a few players go together again this year.
If we’re using chemistry as an argument, Sharp’s case is as strong as anyone’s on the list of potential candidates.
Among Canadian players this year, Sharp ranks fifth in points with 46, one behind Kunitz. Both players are plus-22, which is tied with Brent Seabrook for the second-highest total among Canadians through the weekend’s action. And both Sharp and Kunitz are have reached the 20-goal and 20-assist plateaus already.
But the production from Sharp while skating with Jonathan Toews – who should be the captain for Canada in Sochi – has been ridiculous.
While skating with Toews in 5-on-5 situations, Sharp has 17 goals and 11 assists and a ridiculous CORSI of 164. Meanwhile, while Kunitz has been with Crosby for 5-on-5 action, he has scored 1o goals with 14 assists, and they have a CORSI of 137.
During 5-on-5 play, while Sharp and Toews are together on the ice the Blackhawks’ goals for (1.328) is more than twice the team’s goals against (0.618); the Kunitz-Crosby combo also has a goals for (1.226) that is more than twice their goals against (0.597), but the Toews-Sharp combination has a better Goals For % (68.3) than the Crosby-Kunitz pair (67.2). The CORSI For % while Sharp is with Toews is 60.7 compared to 54.9 percent when Kunitz is with Crosby.
If Sharp is on the bubble, his play with Toews has to be considered.
Individually, Sharp has been an offensive threat all year. He is averaging 2.59 points per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play, which is a better number than Toews or Marian Hossa and ranks 16th in the NHL. His 5-on-5 individual Fenwick this season is 158, which is second in the NHL behind only Alexander Ovechkin. Sharp’s 5-on-5 individual CORSI is 210, which is fourth in the NHL behind only Ovechkin, Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane. And his 5-on-5 goals per 60 minutes (1.575) is seventh in the NHL.
Sharp’s versatility is also something that has to be considered. He has 28 takeaways to date, as many as Logan Couture and more than Claude Giroux, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash and Crosby. He has also been credited with 18 blocked shots, which is more than Nash or Martin St. Louis. And while Sharp isn’t noted for being a physical player, his 36 hits are more than Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle and Mike Richards.
The Blackhawks will have plenty of players headed to Sochi in February, but the case for Sharp is too overwhelming for him to stay home this year. Canada has some tough decisions to make, but including Sharp should be an easy one.