San Jose Sharks Swiss Army Knife Barclay Goodrow

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 10: Barclay Goodrow #23 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period of the opening home game at United Center on October 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Most NHL teams like to have a player which fits the mould of a Swiss Army knife. The sort of player with a variety of tools deployable in a wide variety of situations. Whatever the team needs at a given point in time, this player can meet the need. For the San Jose Sharks, Barclay Goodrow has evolved into this role. Goodrow (who is not Swiss but Canadian) appears to replace Melker Karlsson (who is also not Swiss, but Swedish).

Karlsson was an effective player for the Sharks (his 2016 Stanley Cup Final was superb), but he seems to have gotten old at a young age. His forecheck is less effective, his scoring touch erratic and he is outplayed too often.

Karlsson’s decline left a considerable hole in the Shark line-up; A line-up further depleted by forwards leaving the organization due to salary cap constraints this past offseason. Goodrow has stepped into the breach.

Barclay Goodrow Versus the Carolina Hurricanes

Goodrow’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes was among his better ones. On his opening shift in the game, he hustled nearly the length of the ice to gain puck possession deep in the offensive zone for the Sharks. On his next shift, he intercepted a pass and the Sharks were able to generate offence from Goodrow’s takeaway.

In the second period, he anticipated a play and got behind the defence hoping for an up-ice pass and a breakaway. The stretch pass came but was off target and the puck went all the way to the Canes netminder who reversed it to a Canes defenceman. Goodrow promptly plastered the defender. A few minutes later, Goodrow executed a power move on another Canes defenceman, drawing a tripping penalty. Later in the game, he’d intercept an outlet pass, drove into the offensive zone and fired the puck past netminder James Reimer to put the Sharks up 4-1.

Goodrow created for the Sharks in a variety of ways. Hustling for pucks, getting in opponents passing lanes, anticipating play to create a potential breakaway, powering past a defender to draw a penalty, laying a big hit on an opponent and scoring a goal. A Swiss Army knife player has a lot of useful tools that aid in a variety of situations. Goodrow is there.

Goodrow A Fit For The Sharks

Goodrow brings some grit to the game which also fits the Sharks. The Sharks are a power forward driven team, led by Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane and Timo Meier. Goodrow is another big body and adds another power forward to the mix, albeit with less talent than his high profile teammates. He has tallied three goals this season. His goal against the Chicago Blackhawks broke a 4-4 tie and proved the game-winner.

Goodrow’s Humble Career

It is safe to say Goodrow has had a low profile for most of his NHL tenure. I first saw Goodrow’s potential in a preseason game playing on a line with the highly touted Nikolay Goldobin. Goldobin, the Shark’s first-round pick, was the focal point. But to me, the undrafted Goodrow was the player who made the line work. Goodrow stuck with the organization, though he spent much of his time with the Sharks AHL franchise. As late as 2016-17, Goodrow played virtually his entire season as a member of the San Jose Barracuda. In 2017-18, Goodrow finally stuck with the big club. He wasn’t an every game participant (injuries had a role). DeBoer added him in two playoff games, the first playoff appearances of his career.

In 2018-19, Barclay Goodrow occupied the fourth line center role and was a leader on the team’s penalty kill. Few in the hockey world had heard of him – and he’d still be pretty anonymous if not for his highlight goal. It was the overtime series winner in the legendary Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

That same season, he played all 82 regular-season games and all 20 postseason games. By the time the season ended, Goodrow had appeared in over 200 NHL games, with 18 goals, 28 assists and a plus-5 rating. Alas, aside from his highlight goal, Goodrow and his fourth linemates were modest contributors and often outplayed in the playoffs.

Goodrow’s Opportunity

Early this season, Goodrow is playing on future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thornton’s wing, though he has bounced up and down the line-up. Goodrow may stay there, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets a longer look on the Sharks top lines. One line features Hertl and Kane, the other features Meier and Logan Couture. The complimentary wingers for those lines (Kevin Labanc with the Hertl line and Patrick Marleau with Couture’s line) might not remain in the top six. Goodrow is a natural player for promotion.

Last season, both Marcus Sorensen and Labanc thrived on Thornton’s wing. Sorensen returned to Thornton’s left-wing this season. Goodrow (a left-hander playing right-wing) can add to the long list of players who delivered a major uptick in their production being centred by the player who is eighth all-time in NHL assists.

Goodrow’s Future

At age 26, Barclay Goodrow seems to have finally locked down a role with the Sharks. Ironically, I suspect the role is to fit in where the Sharks have a need, as opposed to finding a settled spot in the line-up. After all, a hustle player who can go into corners, push others around and has a bit of a scoring touch can fit in a lot of places. The Sharks new Swiss Army knife is expanding his role. If he continues to perform, his value will be substantial.

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