Top 10 prospects
The San Jose Sharks hold the 28th overall selection in the 2010 draft.
With the retirement of defenseman Rob Blake, and the potential loss of right wing Patrick Marleau and starting goaltender Evgeny Nabokov, the Sharks face the replacement of three top-shelf players in one offseason. In addition to UFA Marleau, the Sharks also have to ink restricted free-agent forwards Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi. Assuming that is taken care of, San Jose should still have enviable forward depth, even if Marleau leaves town. If there is one area up front which should be addressed, it would be a relative lack of natural wingers with some size and grittiness.
While San Jose has plenty of depth on the blueline, they might look at another physical, defensive-minded defenseman. Most of the Sharks defensemen play a similar style, concentrating on mobility and effective puck movement. But another big body to clear space in front of their own net would definitely be helpful.
Nabokov’s potential departure would clear the way for one of San Jose’s platoon of young goalies to step forward and earn a spot with the parent club next season. With so many goalies in the system, it would seem unlikely the Sharks would choose another in the upcoming draft, but their history of drafting netminders (10 chosen in the past nine drafts) shouldn’t rule out the possibility.
In addition to San Jose’s very deep pool of goaltenders, they also have a fair amount of talented depth on the blueline. Former first-rounder Nick Petrecki (28th overall, 2007) struggled badly in his first season of pro hockey, but his aggressiveness and size separates him from other Shark defensemen. At least another season in the AHL will be required. Jason Demers (186th overall, 2008) showcased his offensive skills during several call-ups this past season, and will look to develop a more all-around game. Judging by San Jose’s preference of shuttling prospects between the AHL and NHL, there are several other Worcester defensemen who could get a look next season, including offensive-minded Derek Joslin (149th overall, 2005) and hard-hitting Mike Moore.
Strength at the center position extends through the franchise, forcing several natural centers (including Patrick Marleau) to switch to a wing, in order to spread the talent around more evenly. With a breakthrough season from Joe Pavelski (205th overall 2003), and the arrival of Logan Couture (9th overall, 2007) and Torrey Mitchell (126th, 2004), the center position is even more crowded.
The Sharks have very little talent on the wings, forcing several prospects to learn the position on the fly. Smallish free-agent signee Benn Ferriero represents the best available option, assuming that Jamie McGinn (36th overall, 2006) moves into a full-time role this season. While the parent club has enough wingers to ice three talented lines, depth on the wing drops off considerably. Any long-term injuries to any of the NHL-level wingers would cause considerable line-juggling, and San Jose might look to address this issue at the draft table this season.
Similarly, after watching their defense get hammered by a relentless Chicago forecheck in the playoffs, adding some muscle on the blueline should be a priority. With Blake’s retirement, Douglas Murray is the only Shark regular who fits that bill currently. Finding and developing a sizable, mobile defenseman who can negate an opposing forecheck would also eventually help divert some of the pressure on San Jose’s young goalies, should workhorse Nabokov leave via free agency.
The Sharks have a unique history at the draft table. Prior to the lockout, the Sharks often concentrated on drafting players from particular leagues or levels, such as the 2004 draft, where the Sharks chose only one player (Jason Churchill, 129th overll) from a "traditional" development league, and every other draftee was either from Junior "B" or U.S. high schools. In fact, the Sharks have always been ahead of the curve in drafting from non-traditional leagues. From 2000-2009, the Sharks have chosen 10 USHL players, 14 U.S. high schoolers, and seven from the German leagues (compared to seven from the rest of Europe combined). San Jose has also shown no interest in drafting Russian players, with none taken since Andrei Zyuzin (a bust at the NHL level) second overall in 1996. With the situation with Russian players even less predictable, that tendency will not likely change this year.
GM Doug Wilson and his staff have not had a pick on the first day of the draft in two seasons, but have done quite well with their early selections in the past. Wingers with size or goal-scoring skill should be a particular focus at this draft, but with only four picks scheduled, the Sharks will be looking for bargains.
1st Round – 28th overall
3rd Round – 88th overall
5th round – 127th overall (from Ottawa)
5th round – 136th overall
Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result:
#28 overall: Riley Sheahan, C, University of Notre Dame.
Sheahan possesses a good hockey frame, athleticism, and is playing in a system that stresses defensive responsibility. Could be a versatile second- or third-line forward.