Along with the rest of the NHL, the San Jose Sharks used their first draft of the new salary-capped NHL with a view towards the changed environment. Realizing that developing home-grown talent would be even more important, San Jose’s general manager Ron Wilson managed to do very well, including a bold "flip" trade of first-round picks (along with two other picks) with Atlanta to move up and select fleet-footed Devin Setoguchi. Wilson and his selected a solid two-way defenseman in Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the second round. The Sharks have used the later rounds of the draft to stockpile goaltenders, and 2005 was no exception, with both the WHL‘s Taylor Dakers and college-bound Alex Stalock selected in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively.
San Jose split the remaining rounds between puck-moving defensemen and shifty forwards, which Wilson (correctly) deduced would be important in light of the rule changes meant to reduce clutch-and-grab defensive play. With two current NHL players, and two prospects on the verge of NHL duty (Stalock and Joslin), the Sharks 2005 draft should be considered successful.
Devin Setoguchi, F, Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – 1st round, 8th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 195
Seizing an opportunity, San Jose swapped their 2005 1st round (12th overall), second round (49th) and seventh round (207th) picks to the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth overall pick in the first round. The Sharks used that pick to choose Setoguchi, a gritty goal-scorer in his second season with the WHL‘s Saskatoon Blades. Hampered somewhat by injuries incurred while playing his hard-nosed style, Setoguchi still managed to post excellent offensive numbers (95 points in 75 combined games) in 2005-6. Dealt to Prince George in 2006, Setoguchi again suffered from injury issues, but posted 37 goals, 39 assists, and 76 points in 70 games for the Cougars.
An ankle injury suffered during the Sharks 2007 training camp prevented him from competing for a roster spot, but he performed well enough in the minors to earn several recalls during the 2007-08 season. The 2008-09 season saw Setoguchi not only make the San Jose roster, but also promotion to the top line. Playing alongside Joe Thornton, Setoguchi enjoyed an excellent season, with 31 goals, 34 assists while appearing in a career-high 81 regular-season games.
Setoguchi’s speed and forechecking skills proved to be an effective weapon, and "Gooch" was expected to resume his first-line duties in 2009. However, a combination of inconsistency, the acquisition of sniper Dany Heatley, and minor injuries contributed to a disappointing season, including a demotion from the top line. Setoguchi redeemed himself somewhat in the playoffs, with nine points in 15 games, but getting back to his 2008 form should be his top priority. A restricted free agent this offseason, Setoguchi will likely be retained, and depending on what decisions San Jose’s front office makes regarding their other free agents, Setoguchi could see an increase in responsibility going forward.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D, Quebec Remparts, 2nd round, 35th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 309
Vlasic was drafted in the second round (using the pick acquired by the trade of goalie Mikka Kiprusoff to Calgary) largely based on potential. He had a somewhat pedestrian 39 points in a combined 83 games for the Quebec Remparts in his draft year. But, possessing excellent hockey smarts and defensive awareness, he represented good value as a second rounder. By the next season, 2005-06, Vlasic exploded offensively, posting better than a point per game in both the regular season (73 points in 66 games) and the QMJHL playoffs (29 points in 23 games).
Expected to spend another year in the "Q", Vlasic forced his way onto the San Jose roster that broke camp in the fall of 2006 and has been a fixture on the Sharks blueline ever since. Until this past season, Vlasic has proven to be quite durable for a player of his (average) size, appearing in all but one game in his first three seasons. The 2008 season also gave a glimpse of Vlasic’s latent offensive talents (36 points in 82 games), which had been "on hold" his first two seasons, as he concentrated on learning to play solid defense in all situations. However, the 2009 season was a bit of a struggle for Vlasic, as he experienced his first major NHL injury, a knee injury inititally deemed minor, but which cost Vlasic 18 games. Depending on Rob Blake’s UFA status, Vlasic may need to pick up the slack at both ends of the ice in 2010-11, which makes next season a crossroad of sorts for the young defenseman. He needs to put last year behind him and solidify himself as a top-four defenseman for the Sharks.
Drafted out of the USHL, Stalock has built a solid resume, despite relatively mediocre statistics. Following his time with Cedar Rapids, Stalock attended the University of Minnesota at Duluth for three seasons, during which time the UM-D Bulldogs went from also-rans to WCHA playoff champions in 2009 (which garnered an invite to the Frozen Four, where Stalock’s UM-D squad lost to tournament runner-ups Miami of Ohio). Signing with San Jose following his Frozen Four appearance, Stalock came into the past season behind incumbent goaltender Tyson Sexsmith. When Sexsmith stumbled a bit early on, Stalock seized the opportunity and established himself as the Worcester Sharks No. 1 netminder. Setting a new AHL rookie record with 39 wins and leading the young Worcester team to a divisional title, Stalock seems to have the inside track for a promotion to San Jose next season, depending on the status of UFA goaltender Evgeny Nabokov. Certainly a good value pick for an organization that never seems to lack a steady pipeline of netminders. While his stats aren’t incredibly impressive, Stalock does possess the unteachable intangibles, such as leadership and a will to win, that unheralded players have used to forge fine careers at the pro level.
Taylor Dakers, G, Kootenay Ice (WHL), 5th Round, 140th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0
Drafted after a successful second year of WHL play in 2004-5, in which he improved in every statistic, Dakers followed with two stellar seasons as Kootenay’s No. 1 goaltender. His final year, in which he won 33 games and had a 2.16 GAA and .930 save percentage, seemed to indicate a bright future in the professional ranks. However, in the course of three pro seasons, one with the ECHL Phoenix Roadrunners and two with the Worcester Sharks, Dakers was never able to solidify a top spot on San Jose’s depth chart. This was due to inconsistent play and the emergence of other goalies in San Jose’s seemingly-endless supply of netminders. Following the 2008-09 season, in which Dakers went 11-9 and actually improved his goals-against and save percentage, San Jose decided against giving him a qualifying offer. Dakers is no longer considered an NHL prospect.
The first of two Ottawa 67’s defensemen taken by the Sharks in 2005, Joslin has shown steady improvement in each of his pro seasons. Projected as a multi-purpose defenseman, Joslin has not disappointed. After nearly identical stastical seasons to close out his junior career (11 goals and 38 assists in 68 games in 2005-6, then 50 games in 68 games in 2006-7), Joslin has honed his craft in the AHL. He has increased his points-per-game average each season, from .425 in 2007-8, to .582 in 2009-10. With a good measure of offensive creativity, and a blistering shot (Joslin won the 2009 AHL Hardest Shot competition), Joslin can certainly contribute on the stat sheet. His weakest aspect has always been his skating, and while not the fleetest of foot, his strong positional play keeps him from being a defensive liability. San Jose has called up Joslin on several occasions, including 24 games this past season (in which he tallied three assists). While a restricted free agent this offseason, Joslin has positioned himself as the most NHL-ready defensive prospect on San Jose’s depth chart (assuming the graduation of Jason Demers), and should be in line for a role as a sixth or seventh defenseman next season. San Jose does like to have their prospects playing, not sitting in the press box, so a year of Joslin being the "shuttle" defenseman between Worcester and the parent club could be in the organization’s interest.
P.J. Fenton, F, Umass-Amherst (NCAA),5th Round, 162nd overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0
A second-generation hockey player (father Paul Fenton enjoyed an eight-year NHL career, mostly with the Winnipeg Jets), P.J. Fenton was selected by the Sharks following a succesful freshman season with the University of Massachussetts-Amherst, during which he tallied 13 goals and 12 assists in 38 games. Utilizing all four years of his NCAA eligibility, P.J. had a steady collegiate career, culminating in a nine-goal, 19-assist (in 36 games) senior season. Upon graduation, Fenton appeared in four games with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks, held pointless. The 2008 season saw Fenton in 52 games for Worcester, where he struggled a bit, but found more success in the ECHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners, posting nine goals and two assists in only 14 matches. Without a North American contract, Fenton signed with the Tier-2 Bundesliga (Germany) Heilbronner Falken for the 2009 season, and enjoyed a pro career-best 63 points in 52 appearances, good for seventh overall in the league. Fenton has signed on to play for the DEG Metro Stars club in Germany‘s Elite League in 2010. Perhaps a good season in the DEL will garner some eventual interest from North American pro clubs, but Fenton may find steady employment in Europe preferable.
Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators 228th overall in 2003, Colbert never came to contract terms and re-entered the draft in 2005, where he was selected by San Jose, one round after they chose teammate Derek Joslin. Upon completion of his third year of major junior, Colbert took the unusual step of playing Canadian collegiate hockey, joining St. Francis Xavier University in the fall of 2005. Displaying two-way talent and strong leadership, Colbert was a two-year captain and MVP of his collegiate squad. Upon completion of his degree, Colbert signed an amateur deal, joining the Worcester Sharks for 19 games before being shipped to the ECHL‘s Kalamazoo Wings in October of 2009, where he posted 10 points in 42 combined regular-season and playoff contests. Colbert is not currently under contract, and with the influx of college defensemen signed by San Jose in 2010, he will likely have to find employment elsewhere.
Tony Lucia, F, Wayzata (US high school), 6th Round, 193rd overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0
Another Sharks draft selection with a pedigree (father Don Lucia is coach of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers varsity hockey team), Lucia recently signed an entry-level contract with San Jose, and joined the Worcester Sharks for four regular-season and one playoff game (1 goal, 0 assists). Despite leading the disappointing Gophers in scoring last season (28 points in 39 games), Lucia does not project to be a scorer in the pros. His lack of high-end offensive skill and medium size (6’0, 180lbs.), means that he will have to translate his above-average hockey sense into a strong checking game if he hopes to make it to the NHL. Lucia is signed through next season.