Patrick Sharp Chances Of Improving Or Declining With Stars

As the month of July officially disappears into the rearview mirror, only the drastic month of August stands between the Dallas Stars and some sort of hockey action.

With training camp on the calendar for somewhere in mid-September and the Stars opening their preseason on September 22nd, there is not much left to be done.

The Dallas Stars entertained another exciting offseason, making it their third in a row. After adding a reliable goaltending presence to their crease in Antti Niemi during the draft, it looked as though the Stars may have been finished making noteworthy moves in the upcoming offseason. After a surprisingly disappointing early end to the 2014-2015 season that resulted in no postseason appearance, it was almost a given that there would be more than one change to the overall scheme.

On July 10th, that major change was made. The Dallas Stars made a blockbuster trade with the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, sending D Trevor Daley and F Ryan Garbutt to the Hawks in exchange for F Patrick Sharp and D Stephen Johns.

On the surface, this was a terrific trade for both sides. In terms of Chicago, they knew they would be tight on cap space in the current offseason. In the trade, they ended up relieving themselves of about $800,000 in cap space, which isn’t a massive burden lifted. But ridding themselves of Sharp means that they will not have to deal with the pressure of re-signing him with a big contract in two years. Also, they are receiving a veteran defender in Daley and a rising winger in Garbutt, both of whom they will not have to feel obligated to give big contracts to unless they earn them.

For the Stars, they were able to add a significant piece to their already lethal offense. Johns is a promising prospect that could make the NHL leap this year. Patrick Sharp is a proven leader and winner, with three Stanley Cups in his career. His presence on the power play will definitely be a step up from the Stars past endeavors on the man advantage. In the top six on offense, Sharp should have excellent chemistry with other veterans such as Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.

But there is one uncertain notion in that sentence: should.

At first, you may think that it is insane to question Patrick Sharp’s ability to be a consistent power forward. After ten seasons in the Blackhawks organization, it is clear that he knows what the game requires and is still capable of providing it.

But at the age of 33, it’s possible that he may not be as “sharp” as he used to be. In a study that was conducted in May of 2014, it was found that NHL forwards reach their peak at the age of 28. Now, as everyone knows, studies are nothing more than numbers and do not resemble the career of every player. The numbers do prove to be logical though. For example, if you look at the careers of Jaromir Jagr and even Wayne Gretzky, both show a slight downturn once they hit the age of 32 or 33.

Along with these statistics, there are other underlying factors that could cause Patrick Sharp to miss the mark a bit this season. Last season, Stars fans had high hopes that forward Ales Hemsky would bring excellent depth and a definitive scoring touch to the Stars growing offense. Instead, Hemsky missed the 35 point mark for the first time in a while regarding 82-game seasons. It was made known that he had a bad hip for the majority of the season, which must have been a factor in his difficult season. But it was also attributed to the fact that Hemsky had left Canada for the first time in his NHL career to come to Texas. He would have obviously needed some time to get used to the new team and new city. That is what second chances are for.

So, where is Patrick Sharp in all of this? Is he set up to entertain Stars fans and put on a show in 2015-2016? Or will invisible factors restrain him from reaching his full potential.

At the age of 33, it seems as though Patrick Sharp won’t have a problem with grabbing sky-high numbers for another season. He has proven it with his ability to help lead a team to three Cups. There will be a lot of adversity to face and put behind him, and it is all up to him to face the challenge. Just from seeing him at the press conference and hearing the excitement in his voice and the energy he is bringing, it doesn’t seem like there will be a problem.

Over the past five seasons, Sharp was one of the Blackhawks’ best forwards.

2010-2011: 74GP, 34G, 37A, 71PTS

2011-2012: 74GP, 33G, 36A, 69PTS

2012-2013: 28GP, 6G, 14A, 20PTS

2013-2014: 82GP, 34G, 44A, 78PTS

2014-2015: 68GP, 16G, 27A, 43PTS

His most recent season did see a bit of a drop off, but there are a few different factors that lie within that result, with the first being that Sharp was moved from his former position on the first line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to the lower lines, receiving less time and not spending his ice time with the superstars. Regaining that chance with Spezza and Hemsky will more than likely help him to rebuild his confidence and scoring savvy.

At the end of the day, it will all be about how Sharp handles the adjustment and how he can perform on the ice for a new team. Can he continue to be a dominant force? Something leads me to believe that he will have no problems.