Sharks organizational depth analysis, Fall 2009

By Nick Owen

The San Jose Sharks have not had a first-round pick in the draft since 2007 when they selected Logan Couture ninth overall and Nick Petrecki 28th. San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson has used early draft picks as trade pieces to acquire players ready to help the parent club, but it’s taken a toll on the prospect pool. The result is a lack of blue-chip prospects. But some Sharks prospects are still stepping up in the NHL in supporting roles. The Sharks are full of prospects with characters who play a hard-working, gritty style. They also continue to have an excellent pipeline of goalies.

Left wing

San Jose’s top prospect at left wing, 21-year-old Jamie McGinn, is already chipping in at the professional level. McGinn made the Sharks out of training camp but has been victim to the “Worcester shuttle” that has sent players back and forth from the Sharks AHL affiliate. McGinn is a hard-working player in the corners and in front of the net. He will play on the third line in San Jose this year but has the offensive ceiling to be a second liner. Besides McGinn, the Sharks do not have too many left wing prospects with the ceiling of being a top-six forward.

In Worcester, the Sharks have two big bruising left wings in 21-year-olds Brandon Mashinter and Frazer McLaren. Mashinter has five points and 22 penalty minutes in 10 games for Worcester this year. McLaren, the Sharks seventh-round draft pick in 2007, will likely eventually take over enforcer duties in San Jose after Jody Shelley. McLaren is 6’5 and has a very nasty right hook.

John McCarthy is another hard-working left wing who can play on the penalty kill. McCarthy, 23, is a pro rookie out of Boston University.

Patrick Zackrisson, 22, has some offensive upside and could potentially produce at the NHL level if he ever comes over from Sweden. Zackrisson is a quick forward with a good shot and good penalty-killing skills. He was the Sharks sixth-round pick in 2007. Tony Lucia is in his final season at the University of Minnesota after being drafted in 2005.

Center

At center, the Sharks have more skill and depth than either wing. The best prospect, 20-year-old Logan Couture, is currently playing for San Jose as part of the “Worcester shuttle”. Couture has a very high hockey IQ and is able to see the ice extremely well. Couture was the Sharks first-round pick in 2007 and projects to be a second line playmaking center. He posted 10 points in seven games in Worcester before his call-up.

The Sharks have another skilled center with the potential to eventually crack the top six in 20-year-old Justin Daniels. Daniels is in his first season at Northeastern University.

The Sharks have a few center prospects who are defensive minded as well. Marek Viedensky, 19, was drafted in the seventh round in 2009 and is currently playing for Prince George in the WHL. Viedensky, 6’4, plays a smart defensive game.

Fellow 2009 draft pick Philip Varone is a gritty 18-year-old who really has been able to put up points in the OHL playing for the London Knights. Varone had a big playoffs for the Knights in 2009 scoring 10 goals and adding nine assists in 14 games.

Steven Zalewski, 23, is in his third professional season and he has started to chip in in the NHL as well. Zalewski will continue to get some third and fourth line time on San Jose. He has seven points in 10 games for Worcester, but is -8.

Tommy Wingels, 21, of the Miami University RedHawks is another center who projects to be a bottom-six player in the NHL, but is still able to chip in a little offensively.

Coming over in the Christian Ehrhoff trade was 20-year-old Patrick White, who is playing in his junior season at the University of Minnesota. White is fast with a very good shot but has problems getting motivated and is somewhat soft. White was drafted in the first round by the Canucks in 2007.

Right wing

Right wing is the where the Sharks are lacking the most. Rookie Benn Ferriero, 22, made the big club out of training camp and has been a fixture in the lineup ever since. Ferriero was drafted by Phoenix but did not sign and signed as a free agent with the Sharks. Ferriero is a sparkplug type player who can swing momentum with a goal or a big hit. Ferriero can also play center as well. He has four points in 14 games so far.

Also at right wing for the Sharks is Matt Jones, a big forward recently sent to the ECHL Kalamazoo Wings for four games. He had three goals and an assist while there, and is now back with the Worcester Sharks. At 23, Jones has the ceiling of a third liner in the NHL but is still a long shot. Twenty-year-old Drew Daniels, brother of Sharks prospect Justin Daniels, is also attending Northeastern.

Defense

At defense, the Sharks are a bit deeper. Nick Petrecki, 20, leads the list and has the potential of making the Sharks as early as this year. He is a physical force at the blue line and has a very nasty streak. He will be an intimidating NHL defenseman for many years to come. Jason Demers is a two-way defenseman with good hockey smarts and offensive instincts. Demers has played extremely well for San Jose and looks like he will stick for the rest of the year. He has also been rewarded power play time with Dan Boyle and has showed incredible poise for a 20-year-old rookie.

Former Ottawa 67 Derek Joslin will also be a good two-way defenseman in the NHL. Joslin, 22, has a very hard shot as he won the hardest shot competition in the AHL All-Star Game. Joslin will likely also get more playing time in the NHL this year as he will be a part of the Worcester shuttle. He has five assists in nine games with Worcester this year.

Mike Moore had a chance to make the team out of training camp but is now in Worcester. Free agent signee Joe Loprieno is also in Worcester, and is -3 after seven games.

In the fourth round of the 2008 entry draft, the Sharks selected Samuel Groulx, who is a 19-year-old mobile stay at home defenseman currently playing for the Quebec Remparts. Groulx could possibly be a third-pair defenseman in the NHL who can chip in some points.

The Sharks have defensive prospects throughout juniors in Julien Demers and Taylor Doherty who play for the Ottawa 67’s and the Kingston Frontenacs respectively.

The Sharks first pick in 2009 was in the second round when they drafted William Wrenn. Wrenn, 18, was captain of the U.S. National Under 18 Team. Wrenn is now playing at the University of Denver and projects to be a second or third pairing defenseman in the NHL.

Other defensive prospects playing NCAA hockey include Justin Braun and Christian Jensen.

In the ECHL is Swede Daniel Rahimi, who was also part of the Christian Ehrhoff trade. He is assigned to Victoria, where he had previously played, rather than new ECHL affiliate Kalamazoo.

Dominik Bielke is a 19-year-old German defenseman playing for the Dresden Ice Lions.

Goal

The Sharks goaltending pipeline is always full and this year is no different. The Sharks could produce a few NHL-caliber starters from the group.

In Worcester, the Sharks have a great tandem with Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith. Both goalies are rookies and have very bright futures ahead of them. Stalock, 22, is an aggressive puckhandling goalie. Sexsmith is a 20-year-old technically sound goaltender. Stalock has played seven games to Sexsmith’s three, posting a .924 save percentage. Sexsmith stands at .849.

Harri Sateri is a 19-year-old Finnish goaltender with great fundamentals and a very good net presence. The Sharks will have no problem replacing starter Evgeni Nabokov when it is needed somewhere down the road. The newly-signed Henrik Karlsson remains in Sweden, having moved up to the SEL full time.

Thomas Greiss, 23, is the current backup to Nabokov. Greiss has only played 87 minutes so far this year, but done well in net for San Jose with his calm demeanor and strong glove hand.