Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Agony and the Ecstasy

This is the mostly highly-anticipated game of the season for me. Grier and I plan on eating some steaks, having some drinks, and breaking down the Sharks (yet again) before the game tonight. I'll be wearing my plain Sharks jersey- Carle will likely be a healthy scratch. The game tonight is the ecstasy part.

But Carle is the agony part. I'll be honest- I'm getting a bit worried. I don't really care about the contract extension- I'm not paying the salary. It might put a bit of a crease in the Sharks' payroll plans if Carle doesn't pan out, but my concerns are different. To me, in his first season, Carle showed an insane amount of promise. He was confident with the puck, a good skater, competent passer, and eager to score goals. Those kinds of skills aren't gained once you are in the NHL. On the other hand, the defensive side of the puck often needs to be taught in the bigs. The list of players that turned from solely offensive threats into solid two-way players is long and distinguished.

So I was excited when I saw Carle's offensive upside. Sure, he wasn't exactly Nik Lidstrom in his own zone, but that comes (or can come) with time. Then the sophomore slump hit, and hit hard. The last month, Carle's ice time has become miniscule, with the few minutes he does play riddled with errors and poor judgement. He seems scared to try and create a scoring chance in fear of showing defensive liability. The other times, he sits in the press box.

In one way, Carle's signing to a multimillion dollar, multi-year extension may help him. If Carle was a 7th round draft pick 6 years ago, he would likely be in the minors or on waivers right now. The fact that the Sharks apparently believe (as I do) that Carle could turn into a top defensemen might just get him some more ice time than he rightfully deserves. For his and the Sharks' sake, I hope he can make the best of it. If he doesn't, he may very well become trade bait to a team that's willing to take a flyer. The clock is ticking.

1 comment:

Linkster said...

Sure, Carle looks like a risky gamble right now because his point production is way down compared to last season. But I don't think he's making 'worse' mistakes than any of the older Sharks D-men, and certainly not as bad (or noticeable) as Ehrhoff's.

And the point production thing is down across the whole roster, Jumbo excepted.

Carle will come around as soon as he notices all the flabby reporters in the press box and says to himself, "it's way more fun down on the ice."