Say what you want about the San Jose Sharks come playoff time, but there is no denying the fact that this hockey club has been very successful at finding and developing their talent. In fact, 14 players from their active NHL roster were drafted and developed by the team including veterans Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov as well as young players like Douglas Murray and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Remarkably, only four of these players were drafted in the first round.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Tim Burke, the Sharks Director of Scouting, to find out what challenges they face when drafting, developing and which prospects might be the closest to cracking the NHL roster next season.
HF: Because you finish so high during the regular season, you never seem to have those top first round draft picks. Is there a secret to your success at drafting later?
TB: Yeah, you’d like to have a first round draft pick. Sometimes, it’s higher or sometimes you might have traded it to try and help your team. I think we’re a lot like a lot of times where you’ve looked at a lot of players throughout the year and you know you’ve got to lucky too so you have to have a little bit of luck, a little bit of work and development and hopefully things work out for you.
HF: Is there ever the temptation or pressure to rush these players?
TB: When the kids are so young, a lot of time the fans will compare it to football where the kids are 21, 22 years old but when they’re 18 [there’s] still a lot of maturity, physical development, mental development and athletically still so we’re trying to not slow down the process but do everything we can so that by the time he’s 23 he’s going to be a man and he’s going to be ready to take on some real responsibility.
HF: How far away is your top prospect Logan Couture from cracking the line-up?
TB: He’s playing in the playoffs right now. I don’t think he’s too far away but it all depends a lot of things have to happen over the summer. He’s still in the development phase. It’ll be interesting to see how he comes back to training camp.
HF: When you look at your AHL roster, who looks like they are the closest to cracking the NHL roster next season?
TB: I would say Derek Joslin who’s played a few games up here, Mike Moore. Those guys are pretty close. Thomas Griess, he’s playing well in the minors. I think a lot of those guys are very close. They’re mature, they’ve had a lot of development time and some of them have come up and played pretty well during the season.
HF: What is it that you like about Joslin?
TB: He’s been up here a number of times and the coaches really like him. He’s still developing down there. He’s got a pretty good hybrid type of game-he’s got an offensive part and a physical part of his game. I think he’s going to be a good player for years to come.
HF: Is there anything specific you look for when you’re trying to determine if a player is ready?
TB: It’s kind of various steps you’re trying to get them to [take] on their way up here. For some guys, it’s just a matter of they need more weight, or they might need some more playing time or we’re redefining their role. It’s different for each guy so it’s hard to say. Then they’ve got to come up and integrate with these older guys and fit in with them and [we look at] they’re practice habits. It’s a lot of things.
HF: Speaking of older guys, you brought a number of veteran Stanley Cup winners into the line-up over the past season. How important is it to have these kinds of veterans in the line-up to help influence these younger players?
TB: I think it’s very important because they (the veterans) can get the clutter out of you. They can say this is the way you do it. They don’t say ‘this might work’ — they know what works. It’s very difficult in any walk of life to get people down to their simplistic forms and repeat it over and I think that’s what they do.