Brad Marchand is 5th in the NHL for goals scored. No, that isn’t a typo and no, you did not read that wrong. As hard as it is to believe, Marchand has been on a goal-scoring tear this season. Could it just be a lucky season, or is it possible Marchand has actually developed into an elite, goal scoring player? Let’s try to make sense of this.
Marchand has already matched his career season-high for goals and he still has 20 games and change left to add even more goals to that total. I don’t think Marchand has made miraculous improvements as a player or that these numbers are that out of range for him. Based on his numbers in the lockout-shortened season in 2012-2013, he would have finished with around 32 or 33 goals if it were a full season if you utilize his goals per game that shortened season. This season, he is projected to finish with 41 goals. The Bruins have not had a 40-goal scorer since Glen Murray in the 2002-2003 season. That is insane.
There is one thing that is different with Marchand compared to the other top goal scorers in the league though. Penalty minutes. Marchand currently is in the Top 20 for penalty minutes in the league and has more penalty minutes than the top three scorers (Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, and Tyler Seguin) combined. Marchand also only has two majors which is the second least compared to the rest of the Top 20 penalty minute leaders, meaning that his penalties actually leave his team short handed. Goal scorers are not historically known to rack up penalty minutes like Marchand has throughout his career.
It is not just simply penalty minutes but he always seems to find trouble. He was suspended last season for two games for slew footing (arguably the dirtiest thing you can do in hockey) and was suspended this year for three games for a dirty and low hit, which resulted in him missing the Winter Classic. The suspensions are a small sample size so it’s hard to jump to conclusions. But, it appears the general consensus around the league, whether you agree with it or not, is slowly becoming that Marchand is a dirty player and not just an agitator.
Marchand is currently under a four-year, $18 million contract with the Bruins, which is good until the end of 2016-2017 season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. So what will the Bruins do? Trade Marchand or resign him? If I were the Bruins, I would move him next season and get something back for him while they can because, right now, if his pace keeps up, he is going to want elite goal-scorer money when his contract is up. Will the Bruins want to pay up that money? Just ask Dougie Hamilton about that one.
But if the Bruins don’t sign him or trade him, which team is actually going to want to pay him that money? I honestly don’t think Marchand would have anywhere close to 25, let alone 30 goals with any other team. The only place Marchand will likely get that money he wants is with the Bruins. The Bruins are a perfect fit for him to be productive but the Bruins won’t and can’t give him more money. Something will just have to give come next spring.