Name: Patrick Marleau
Born: 9/15/79 in Aneroid, Saskatchewan
Drafted: 1st Round (2nd overall) in 1997 by the Sharks
The Finesse Game
Some scouts have described Marleau as a bigger version of Paul Kariya because of his quickness and intelligence. He has great first- and second-step acceleration, with an extra gear. Marleau plays an advanced offensive game; his defensive game is developing. He should become a high-level two-way centre. He pounces on a loose puck and is a scoring threat every time he has it. His offensive reads are outstanding. He anticipates plays and has excellent hands. Marleau is a slightly better playmaker than shooter at this stage, but he will be encouraged to shoot more. He has a quick release with an accurate touch, and will become a valuable power-play weapon. The only question mark concerning Marleau is his consistency. He had the occasional lulls in the season, but it remains to be seen whether this was simply the natural learning process for a rookie, or a defect in his makeup. It is worth remembering that Marleau barely made the cutoff for the 1997 draft. One more day and he would have been in the 1998 draft. In hockey terms, he was a baby last season.
The Physical Game
Marleau is an imposing athlete, very physically mature for his age. He skates through his checks, and when he hits you, you know it. Marleau does not go looking to run people, but he will battle to get into traffic for the puck. He will take a check to make a play. He's grown gradually through the past few years, lucky to avoid a sudden growth spurt, and has stayed coordinated.
Although Marleau was probably the Sharks' top centre last season, the coaching staff was careful not to overload him or overwhelm him with his assignments or ice time. Marleau was able to progress gradually while acclimating himself to the NHL, and by the end of the year was playing on an effective line with finishers Jeff Friesen and Owen Nolan. Marleau was respectful of the veterans on the team, but not awed, and fit in quickly.
The second pick overall in the 1997 draft, Marleau is a blue-chipper who figures to move forward this season. He should score in the 20-goal range, though the Sharks will likely remain cautious in guarding his progress.
SOURCE: HOCKEY SCOUTING REPORT