Top 10 prospects
This past season, the San Jose Sharks were once again one of the best teams from top to bottom in the NHL. A preseason favorite by many to win the Stanley Cup, the Sharks won the Pacific Division with 108 points. But once again in the playoffs, the Sharks faltered bowing out in six games to the Dallas Stars. After their third consecutive second-round exit, GM Doug Wilson decided it was time to go in a different direction. Head Coach Ron Wilson was shown the door and in his place came Todd McLellan. The former Red Wings assistant fresh off a Stanley Cup season will now be tasked with getting this club over the hump.
McLellan will step into one of the best situations in the NHL next season. Almost the entire Sharks lineup is under contract, with the main exception being UFA Brian Campbell. As is stands right now, the club has about $40 million tied up in contracts leaving the club with a hefty sum to go shopping with. The Sharks should make re-signing Campbell a priority but a top-six forward would also be worth taking a look at. Jeremy Roenick who surprised everyone with his play last year also should be brought back. This club is just a couple of pieces away from playing for the Cup, it’s Doug Wilson’s job to figure out which pieces he needs.
In this year’s draft the Sharks have seven selections but none before the fourth round and three picks in the seventh round. That likely means any players drafted by the organization will be at least three years away. However, the Sharks recent success stems almost entirely from their ability to find prospects late in the draft and cultivate them into consistent NHL-level contributors. Baring any trades made by the Sharks the 2008 draft will be solely about restocking the farm system.
As shown by the amount of good young talent on the Sharks club, this team drafts very well and develops even better. The Sharks goaltending prospects continue to be one of the strongest areas for this club. The Sharks who drafted and developed three current starting goalies in the NHL (Kiprusoff CAL, Toskala TOR, and Nabokov SJ) once again have two excellent goaltenders in the system. Tyson Sexsmith was outstanding for the Vancouver Giants this season, leading them deep into the WHL playoffs. His regular-season record of 43-11-6 has to have Sharks scouts patting themselves on the back. The Sharks German prospect Thomas Greiss spent most of the season in Worcester where his numbers were down slightly after what was a remarkable rookie campaign in the AHL. However, Greiss did make his NHL debut this season and was solid in his two starts against New Jersey and Anaheim. He remains the Sharks goalie of the future.
The Sharks also have a plethora of tremendous forwards in the system. The Sharks pair of Ottawa 67’s Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn each had terrific seasons in the OHL. The 67’s duo each had 58 points in 51 regular-season games and figure to be knocking on the NHL’s door in a couple of seasons. San Jose took advantage of their young talent this season with significant contributions from Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell, who before this season had not played a single NHL game, saw action in all 82 games as a third-line center. Further down the line forwards Mike Iggluden and former first-round pick Lukas Kaspar round out an impressive stable of proven talent in the AHL.
The 2008 Sharks had 15 players under the age of 28 on their roster. That is an incredible asset particularly in the new cap era. However with so many prospects making the jump to the NHL, it has left the farm system a little bare at key positions. This season when Ryane Clowe went down for six months, the Sharks were forced to put players out of position to fill their void at left wing. Looking at the last five drafts, the Sharks have only selected one left-winger in the top five rounds, which explains the lack of depth. Besides McGinn, the Sharks don’t really have any depth on the left side, look for them to address that need either by trade or in the draft this offseason.
Although the Sharks aren’t particularly weak on the defensive side of things, it is likely they will draft a couple of defensemen this year. In the past couple of seasons they have traded Josh Gorges and Tom Preissing without needing to worry about a drop-off in production from their prospects. In order to ensure they can continue to have that flexibility at a position the Sharks traditionally value very highly, they need to have more young defense in the system.
Tim Burke, the director of scouting for the Sharks is a firm believer in drafting defense, every year. In the last two drafts, the Sharks picked up defensemen with first-round selections of Ty Wishart and Nick Petrecki. However with all of the Sharks picks coming after the fourth round in 2008, the Sharks will likely be drafting based upon the best players available. The Sharks have had success in the fourth round before, drafting current Sharks Torrey Mitchell (2004) and Christian Ehroff (2001). Even further down on the draft charts the Sharks got great return out of Joel Pavelski (205th overall, 2003) and Ryane Clowe (175th overall, 2001). So despite the impact pick of a first rounder, the Sharks and their scouting staff will hope to add to this franchise’s future.
Fourth Round: 117th
Fifth Round: 146th (from Montreal), 147th
Sixth Round: 177th
Seventh Round: 186th (from New York Islanders), 194th (from Buffalo), 207th