Sharks Top 20 prospects, Spring 2008

By HF Staff

Goaltender continues to be the strongest position for the Sharks prospects with five goaltenders in the top 20 led by Thomas Greiss at No. 5.  New additions to the Spring 2008 Top 20 include Alex Stalock, Nick Bonino, and Tom Walsh, replacing graduates Torrey Mitchell and Joe Pavelski

Top 20 at a glance

1. (1) Logan Couture, C
2. (3) Devin Setoguchi, RW
3. (2) Ty Wishart, D
4. (5) Nick Petrecki, D
5. (7) Thomas Greiss, G
6. (10) Dan Spang, D
7. (9) Derek Joslin, D
8. (8) Jamie McGinn, LW
9. (16) Tyson Sexsmith, G
10. (13) Mike Iggulden, RW
11. (15) Steven Zalewski, C
12. (14) James DeLory, D
13. (12) Lukas Kaspar, LW
14. (11) Taylor Dakers, G
15. (NR) Alex Stalock, G
16. (NR) Nick Bonino, C
17. (17) Timo Pielmeier, G
18. (NR) Tom Walsh, D
19. (18) T.J. Fox, C
20. (20) P.J. Fenton, LW

1. (1) Logan Couture, C
1st Round, 9th overall, 2007, 18, 6’0, 191

While Couture has shown promise, his season with Ottawa 67s was plagued with inconsistency.  Couture was dominant in stretches but was unable to maintain that level of play.  But Couture has the highest ceiling of any Sharks prospect.

The inconsistency is not from lack of effort.  Couture continues to work hard under 67’s coach Brian Kilrea, logging 58 points (21 goals, 37 assists) in 51 games.  Playing alongside fellow Sharks prospect Jamie McGinn, Couture got off to a quick start this season with 9 points (1 goal, 8 assists) in the 67’s five September games.   But Couture missed 17 games over the course of the season and struggled throughout March as did Ottawa as a whole.  Couture was the best player for the 67s in the playoffs (2 goals and 1 assist in four games) in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Oshawa Generals.

Couture has proven that he can score consistently at the junior level and is ready for the challenge of a higher level.  He should get a good look next year at the Sharks training camp.  Couture has ability that can land him on an NHL scoring line but needs to fine tune his game before he sticks as an everyday NHL player.  Physical maturation will be a necessary part of the process.

2. (3) Devin Setoguchi, RW
1st Round, 8th overall, 2005, 20, 6’0, 205

Setoguchi’s impressive play early in the year for the big club made it difficult for the Sharks to keep him out of the lineup.  Playing alongside Joe Thornton, the young right winger netted seven goals in his first nine NHL games.  Setoguchi followed his great start with a long slump, leading to his demotion to the AHL just before Christmas. 

The trade of Steve Bernier for defenseman Brian Campbell in Buffalo opened up a spot for Setoguchi on one of San Jose’s top two forward lines.  Coach Ron Wilson has used him on a second line alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski as well as the second power-play unit where he finished the season with 11 goals and 6 assists.  During his time with Worcester, Setoguchi piled up 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists) in 23 games.  Setoguchi played his first NHL playoff game against Calgary on Apr. 15, notching an assist while playing alongside Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo.

Setoguchi has good skating ability as well as the desire to compete at both ends of the ice.  His line has shown great chemistry in his most recent call-up, especially in controlling play along the boards.  Setoguchi’s greatest strengths remain his strong shot and great release.  Expect him to develop a more complete overall offensive game as a complement to his already mature two-way game.

3. (2) Ty Wishart, D
1st Round, 16th – 2006, 19, 6’5, 203

Wishart remains the top defenseman in San Jose’s system.  The 2007-08 season was Wishart’s fourth in the WHL.  He began the season with the Prince George Cougars before a midseason trade sent him to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Wishart posted stellar all-around numbers as the top player on his Cougars team.  Through his first 40 games, Wishart recorded 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) while matching mostly against opponents’ top lines.  Since his trade to the Warriors, the big defenseman (6’5, 203 lbs) has continued to produce despite a drop-off in goal scoring, registering 27 points (4 goals, 23 assists) in 32 contests.  Wishart recorded 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in a six-game series against the Calgary Hitmen in the first round of the playoffs.  Following Moose Jaw’s early exit, Wishart was reassigned to Worcester where he went scoreless with a +1 rating in five contests.

The increase in offensive production this year indicates that the Sharks top defense prospect has worked hard to polish his game.  His combination of size and mobility makes him a imposing defender, while his strong skating ability promises two-way contributions.  Wishart must be signed this summer and could have a serious impact on the Sharks as early as next season.

4. (5) Nick Petrecki, D
1st Round, 28th – 2007, 18, 6’3, 215

The Sharks traded to get Petrecki late in the first round last summer.  Analysts praised Petrecki as the best hitter in the 2007 draft, but there were concerns over his offensive upside.  Serving an important defensive role as a freshman, the big defenseman helped Boston College win this year’s NCAA championship.

Petrecki has worked hard this year under the tutelage of Boston College coach Jerry York.  He showed signs of an offensive breakout after scoring two goals against Harvard on Feb. 12 and another in his next contest against UMass-Amherst; he finished the season with 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in 42 contests.  Playing alongside 6’3 sophomore Carl Sneep, Petrecki and his partner emerged as an imposing, shutdown defensive pair. 

The experience Petrecki gained from the Eagles run will prove invaluable in his development.  Petrecki’s ability to play smart positional hockey puts him on ice in all situations for a strong Boston College team.  Look for Petrecki to spend at least one more year with Boston College while he continues to round out his game.

5. (7) Thomas Greiss, G
3rd Round, 194th – 2004, 22, 6’1, 200

The Sharks have a very deep core of goaltending prospects and Thomas Greiss is currently the most NHL-ready of the group.  Greiss spent the first half of the season playing regularly in the AHL while his good friend Dimitri Patzgold backed up Evgeni Nabokov for the Sharks.  Greiss has posted worse numbers (3.09 GAA and .892 SV%) compared to his strong rookie season in AHL.

Greiss had the opportunity to play in three games for the Sharks this year, including a solid start against the New Jersey Devils.  Greiss was soon demoted to the AHL where he was important in Worcester’s playoff run. 

San Jose called up Greiss for their first-round playoff series against Calgary, but has not dressed him for a game yet.  Greiss has shown flashes of brilliance and will need to have a good year next year to maintain his spot on the depth chart.  

6. (10) Dan Spang, D
2nd Round, 52nd – 2002, 24, 6’0, 205

Spang is not imposing at 6’0, but he serves an important defensive role for Worcester.  The 2007-08 is Spang’s third season in the AHL after a productive four-year career for Boston University.  At BU, Spang earned First-Team All-American honors as a senior.

Spang’s role as a professional has changed since college, as he has not developed into the offensive threat that was expected recording 31 points this season (8 goals, 23 assists) while playing in 77 games.  Regardless, the Winchester, MA native is one of Worcester’s most important leaders and most reliable players.  Spang is close to ready for the NHL.

7. (9) Derek Joslin, D
5th Round, 149th – 2005, 21, 6’1, 210

The 67’s have turned out many of San Jose’s most intriguing prospects, including the young defenseman Derek Joslin.  GM Doug Wilson has a history of drafting character players over talent and Joslin is no exception.  Last season Joslin became the de facto leader of a young 67’s team and has brought his maturity to the AHL.

Joslin was not projected to have much of an offensive upside, but has contributed a respectable 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 80 games with Worcester.  Joslin has work to do to overtake some of the more dynamic defensive prospects ahead of him. 

8. (8) Jamie McGinn, LW
2nd Round – 36th – 2006, 19, 6’0, 200

When he was drafted in 2006, McGinn was tabbed as a gritty two-way player with a goal-scoring upside.  Playing most of the season for the 67s alongside top prospect Couture, McGinn has contributed nicely (29 goals, 29 assists) despite suffering through numerous injuries that limited him to only 51 games this season.  McGinn recorded two assists in eight games playing for Worcester after his April 1 reassignment from Ottawa.

McGinn has above-average skating ability and a nose for the net.  Most importantly to the Sharks, the left winger has a strong will to win, giving him an edge over more skilled forwards.  Despite a statistical decline this season, the 67’s top goal scorer plays with a maturity beyond his years and should become an effective third liner for the Sharks within a year or two.

9. (16) Tyson Sexsmith, G
3rd Round – 94th – 2007, 19, 5’11, 210

While Greiss may be the most NHL-ready of the Sharks goalie prospects, Sexsmith might be the future.  His outstanding 2006-07 season with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL got him drafted in the third round, and Sexsmith has done nothing to disappoint this year posted a WHL-leading 1.89 GAA and a .911 save percentage.  These spectacular numbers yielded 43-11-8 record this season for a very good Giants team.

Despite losing many of their top players, the Giants managed to remain atop of the WHL largely because of Sexsmith’s phenomenal play.  Sexsmith carried the Giants to a first round-sweep of Chilliwack before falling to Spokane in the second round of the WHL playoffs.  Sexsmith was almost unbeatable in the postseason with a .931 save percentage.  Look for him to play out his last year of eligibility in juniors due to the Sharks’ crowded goaltending situation with Worcester.

10. (13) Mike Iggulden, RW
Free Agent Signee – 2006, 25, 6’3, 215

It takes big players longer to develop and Mike Iggulden is no exception.  Iggulden had an uninspiring four-year career for the Cornell Big Red of the ECAC.  Despite this, the big right winger has developed into one of the most consistent and most dominant players for Worcester over the past three seasons.

Playing his third full year in the AHL, the Ontario native has improved his offensive output every season, from 48 to 57 to 66 points this year (29 goals, 37 assists).  Iggulden plays a very smart hockey game, always in the right place in the offensive zone.  Playing alongside fellow ECAC graduate Graham Mink, the hefty right winger has become the go-to guy for Worcester.  Iggulden continues to develop, even at age 25, and has a chance of developing into a valuable depth player for San Jose. 

11. (15) Steven Zalewski, C
5th Round – 153rd – 2004, 21, 6’0, 190

Zalewski’s senior season at Clarkson was everything that it was expected to be.  Starting as a freshman, Zalewski demonstrated that he has the ability to be a prolific goal scorer.  This season, he continued to improve, notching a career-high 21 goals, leading all ECAC scorers.  The assistant captain carried the Golden Knights to 15-4-3 conference record, good for first place in the ECAC this season. 

Zalewski was recently signed to a professional contract with Worcester where he had an immediate impact.  Through 8 games, the young center registered 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists). 

Zalewski has a fantastic goal-scoring touch.  In addition to good hockey smarts in the offensive zone, the  center is blessed with a lightning-quick release on his snap shot.  The Sharks believe he can develop into a valuable two-way player, but the more intriguing question is how productive can Zalewski become at the next level.  Expect him to start next season at the AHL level, but with his polished, heady game, it would not be surprising for him to make a jump to the top, similar to Torrey Mitchell.

12. (14) James Delory, D
4th Round, 98th – 2006, 20, 6’5, 225

Delory and the talented Oshawa Generals grabbed third place this season in the OHL’s Eastern Conference.  The additional depth and talent acquired by the Generals likely contributed to lower point totals from this defensive specialist.

The Sharks have been happy to see that the Oshawa has advanced into the semi-finals of the OHL playoffs.  The Generals playoff run has given Delory valuable experience playing important minutes against some of the league’s better players.  The Scarborough, Ont. native has been a stalwart for Oshawa in the playoffs with 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 11 games while posting a sparkling +8 rating.

Delory clearly has the size and strength to excel at pro hockey, yet he remains a raw talent at this stage in his career.  The big defenseman needs to focus on making a solid first pass out of his own zone and on his defensive positioning.  Considering the stable of young talent on the Sharks blue line, Delory will need considerable seasoning before he has a chance to break through into the pro game.

13. (12) Lukas Kaspar, LW
1st Round, 22nd – 2004, 22, 6’2, 200

Czech native Kaspar has become somewhat of a disappointment as a former first-round pick.  He has immense potential including great skating, stickhandling, and shooting ability.  Regardless, Kaspar seems unable to put everything together consistently.

Kaspar has struggled to pick up the North American style of hockey, particularly on offense.  Considering that he has failed to score above 41 points in each of his three AHL seasons, Kaspar appears headed towards a third line job, unless he can undergo a major transformation.  Playing alongside new addition Zalewski seems to have energized Kaspar, who has seven points in seven April games.  His great skating could still make him valuable in a defensive role, particularly in penalty-killing situations. 

14. (11) Taylor Dakers, G
5th Round, 140th – 2005, 21, 6’2, 175

Dakers excelled while playing for the Kootenay Ice of the WHL, recording GAAs of 2.03, 2.11, and 2.16 over his last three seasons of junior hockey.  Dakers saw action in only 22 games for Worcester this season while posting a 3.13 GAA and .889 save percentage.

The signing of Brian Boucher left Worcester with a surplus of goalies and resulted in the subsequent demotion of Dakers to the ECHL.  The opportunity for increased playing time gave the young goalie a chance to shine, and he posted an incredible .930 save percentage and 2.34 GAA over 15 contests. 

Dakers played much better after his recall from the ECHL registering a 2.70 GAA and .901 save percentage while winning three out of four games.  Dakers has shown he has plenty of talent, he just needs the opportunity to play.  It may be difficult for Dakers to make his way through the Sharks logjam of goaltending prospects, especially if Sexsmith makes the jump to the AHL next season.

15. (NR) Alex Stalock, G
4th Round, 112th – 2005, 20, 5’11, 180

Stalock was one of the few bright spots for Minnesota Duluth starting as a freshman in the 2006-07 season.  He posted good, but unspectacular, numbers and returned this year looking to build upon his success as a freshman.  This year Stalock kept the impotent Bulldogs offense in many contests, and was named team MVP at the end of the season. 

Stalock started all 36 games for Minnesota-Duluth this season posting a 2.34 GAA and .914 save percentage.  Both these stats are very impressive considering the high-octane offenses of the WCHA.  Stalock has shown that he can shine even when his team is significantly outgunned.

16. (NR) Nick Bonino, C
6th Round, 173rd – 2007, 19, 6’1, 202

Bonino had an impressive prep school career for the Avon Old Farms in Connecticut.  Bonino is a prospect the Sharks had considered taking late in the 2006 draft, but the club waited and got him in the sixth round this past year.

Bonino possesses a good frame that he has used to his advantage this season skating alongside Jason Lawrence and Joe Pereira on the Boston University Terriers second line.  Playing one of the more competitive schedules in college hockey, the Hartford native has compiled 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) in 39 games.  His performance placed him third on the team in goals scored and second in freshman scoring behind 2008-eligible Colin Wilson.

17. (17) Timo Pielmeier, G
3rd Round, 83rd – 2007, 18, 6‘0, 180

Currently ranked fifth among the Sharks top goaltending prospects, Pielmeier has the opportunity to leapfrog several of the goalies ahead of him in the rankings.  Pielmeier played his first season of North American hockey for the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL.  Pielmeier has posted a very respectable 2.94 GAA and .911 save percentage in the high-scoring Quebec league, but struggled in the first round the league’s playoffs.

At age 18, Pielmeier still has time and the opportunity to improve while playing for St. John’s.  He has exhibited great reflexes and the ability to play the puck well.  His weaknesses are lack of good lateral movement and rebound control.  Expect Pielmeier to improve upon his numbers from last season as he continues to play the bulk of the minutes for the Fog Devils — the only thing to be cautious of is rising prospect Jake Allen playing behind him.  At his young age, he has the ability to develop into an effective goalie capable of providing good depth to the Sharks down the line.

18. (NR) Tom Walsh, D
5th Round, 163rd – 2002, 24, 6’0, 195

Walsh enjoyed a modest four-year career playing for the Harvard Crimson of the ECAC.  In 2007-08, Walsh has established himself as one of Worcester’s most consistent defensemen.  Through 76 games he has posted 36 points (6 goals, 30 assists).

Walsh has shown good skating ability with a solid understanding of the offensive zone.  His very consistent game has been a calming influence for Worcester this year.  Next season, expect Walsh to continue with Worcester and begin to assume more of a leadership role with this team as he gains experience with the pro game.

19. (19) T.J. Fox, C
Free Agent Signee – 2007, 23, 6’1, 197

Fox signed with the Sharks last season after leading the Union Dutchmen in scoring as a sophomore.  Despite his scoring success in the ECAC, the 23-year-old was inconsistent this season for Worcester, scoring only 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 71 games.

Fox, a good skater, saw a huge increase in production from his freshman to sophomore year playing in the ECAC.  Fox has improved at every level, so don’t count him out as an important player on next year’s Worcester team.

20. (20) P.J. Fenton, LW

In his last year with the UMass-Amherst Minutemen, Fenton continued to impress with his steady play.  While serving as the assistant captain for the Minutemen, the gritty left winger finished this season with 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists) in 36 games while playing in every situation.  He then went on to play four games for Worcester, going scoreless in four contests. Fenton is most effective working along the boards and in the corners.  He plays a smart, team-oriented game, but his skills may hold him back from the next level.