Once considered to be among the NHL‘s brightest young stars, Marty Havlat has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. He broke into the league in 2000 with an Ottawa Senators team that selected him in the first round of the 1999 Entry Draft. As a rookie, Havlat registered 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points. He followed that up with a 50-point sophomore campaign and would go on to become one of Ottawa’s top forwards before eventually moving on to join the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was in Havlat’s final season with Ottawa that his injury concerns started to become more serious. He played in just 18 games that year before an injury knocked him out of the lineup for the remainder of the regular season. Since then, the Czech winger hasn’t suited up for a full 82 games in a season.
Havlat was acquired by the Sharks in the summer of 2011 in exchange for Dany Heatley. In his first year with the team, he played in 39 contests and managed a respectable 27 points. In last season’s lockout-shortened campaign, Havlat was healthy enough to suit up for 40 of San Jose’s 48 games but registered just 18 points.
That’s been the story with Havlat for a while. He’s either not healthy enough to play or he’s playing but not producing. This season it’s both. The 32-year-old forward has appeared in 28 of the Sharks’ 59 games to date, having missed time due to a variety of both upper and lower-body injuries. Havlat has potted four goals and added six assists for a grand total of 10 points despite seeing upwards of 15 minutes of ice time most nights. He has been given the chance to produce when healthy but has failed to take advantage.
It’s probably not fair to be too critical of a guy whose body has simply failed him time and time again throughout his career. After all, it’s not Havlat’s fault that he has suffered so many injuries. It doesn’t make him a bad player. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik has had the same struggles and he’s a world-class goal-scorer. The difference between Havlat and Gaborik, though, is that the latter is a highly effective player when he’s healthy enough to play. He skates hard, he goes to the net and he wants the puck on his stick. Havlat, on the other hand, is noticeably timid and avoids contact with opposing players at all costs. He doesn’t compete anymore, and for that, he is justly criticized.
Sadly, this season could very well be the last of Havlat’s career. He has one year left on his current contract but is expected to be bought out this summer. With just 10 points and 41 shots on goal, Havlat has contributed very little to the Sharks’ success this season and has been invisible when he’s on the ice. He has missed almost half of the club’s games and is an absolute non-factor in the majority of the contests he’s actually healthy enough to participate in. I would give him an “incomplete” grade, but that feels like a cop-out, so Havlat gets an “F” on his report card.