Sharks junior prospects 2008-09 review

By Joseph Cassidy

QMJHL


Samuel Groulx, D – Quebec Remparts

6’1, 183
4th round, 92nd overall, 2008

After compiling 25 points in 70 games last season, the 18-year old Groulx had 25 points – three goals and 22 assists – in 61 games in 2008-09. His biggest improvement this year was his plus/minus rating: +36 after a +5 last season. One thing that helped is that he has added 16 pounds. But overall, he is just ramping up his defensive skills as he matures and learns more about defensive responsibilities.

The Remparts are currently in the second round of the playoffs, in 12 games Groulx has one goal and five assists with a +11 rating.

WHL


Tyson Sexsmith, G – Vancouver Giants

6’0, 204
3rd round, 94th overall, 2007

The 20-year-old Sexmith is the veteran component in the spectacular backstopping combination with Jamie Tucker that has earned 57 wins for the Giants in 2008-09. In 52 games, Sexsmith went 39-9-2-2 with a 2.26 GAA and six shutouts. He allowed 117 goals while making 1029 saves in helping the Giants claim first place in the WHL’s Western Conference with 119 points.

This season marked his third straight year with over 3,000 minutes played.

So far in this year’s playoffs, he has started all 11 games for the Giants. In the test of nerves known as playoff hockey, he owns a sparkling 1.48 GAA in the team’s 8-2-1 record. The Giants knocked off the Spokane Chiefs in sudden-death overtime of game seven in the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs. Sexsmith recorded 29 saves for the 1-0 shutout victory. Next opponent, the Kelowna Rockets.

Sexsmith has signed a contract with the Sharks and should begin with Worcester next year.

OHL

Logan Couture, C – Ottawa 67’s
6’0, 200
1st round, 9th overall, 2008

Since his first season in Ottawa in 2005-06, Couture has produced good offensive numbers. In 2008-09, he continued this trend with an 87-point outburst in 62 games (39 goals, 48 assists). He then played seven playoff games and added 10 more points (3 goals, 7 assists).

Couture’s ability to pass and finish around the net was the biggest reason for San Jose to make him a first-round pick, but he is also valued for his ability to prevent goals being scored when he’s on the ice. This past season he had a career-high plus/minus rating of +28, and he is becoming an excellent two-way player who takes care of business in both ends of the rink.

According to his coaches, Couture got stronger as the year went on. His speed and strength on the puck were better than last season and he seemed to score the big goal for the team all the time in the last half of the season. His best asset is that he thinks the game in all three zones well.

Couture was picked for this season’s OHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star Team.

He has signed a contract with the Sharks, but will return to junior next year if he does not make the NHL squad.

Julien Demers, D – Ottawa 67’s
6’0, 215
5th round, 106th overall, 2008

Every statistical category for Demers has improved in 2008-09. He had a career high in regular-season points: seven goals and 35 assists in 61 games; a career-high in playoff points: 11 assists in 10 games; and a career-high rating of +28.     

This season the young defenseman’s playing time and responsibilities increased, especially after teammate Tyler Cuma’s injury. Demers is a big strong kid who can play in all situations and any type of game. He defends well, makes a good first pass and can join the rush when needed. His high number of assists indicate he can make the crucial pass to the open man in a scoring position.

Demers joined his Ottawa teammate on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team.

The Ottawa 67’s were eliminated in the sudden-death overtime period of game 7 against the Niagara IceDogs. The loss marked the end of famed OHL coach Brian Kilrea’s 32-year coaching reign behind the Ottawa bench.
 

USHL


Justin Daniels, C – Sioux City Musketeers

6’2, 175
3rd round, 62nd overall, 2008

Daniels showed he can compete in his rookie season in the USHL, a league that has showcased over 100 NHL draft picks from past and present.

With nine goals and 28 assists in 56 games played, Daniels placed fifth in team scoring. He shows poise with the puck and is a good playmaker. He smartly uses his 6’2 frame to buy himself time and create space for making plays.

Justin and his twin brother Drew are used in power-play and penalty-killing situations. Both will be playing NCAA hockey this fall at Northeastern University.

Drew Daniels, RW – Sioux City Musketeers
6’2, 175
7th round, 194th overall, 2008

This final pick of the Sharks in the 2008 entry draft could become a very good player. With his twin brother as his teammate, Drew’s numbers – nine goals and 19 assists – are consistent with the average for points by first-year players in the league. A highlight in the defensive-minded area of his play is the +2 rating which ranks him second on the team in this department.

Drew and his brother are a special team’s one-two-punch. They are two 6’2, cut-like-stone athletes.

The Musketeers failed to qualify for post-season play, but they had a great year with their player development goals.