When Sharks GM Doug Wilson came to St Paul for the 2011 draft, the Sharks were coming off a solid but disappointing season. Most teams would be happy with a loss in the conference finals, but for Sharks organization, the goal has been the Stanley Cup for several years now. The night before the draft the Sharks locked up a key player by signing RFA Devin Setoguchi to a three-year, $9 million dollar deal. During the first round of the draft, the Sharks stole the show by trading their 2011 first round pick, Setoguchi, and 2010 first round pick Charlie Coyle to the Minnesota Wild. In return the Sharks received offensive defenseman Brett Burns and a fourth round pick in 2012. Coming to the draft this year, the Sharks have a hole with their top offensive prospect now traded.
Matt Nieto, LW – Boston University (Hockey East)
2nd Round, 47th overall
After the huge move the day before, the Sharks were able to conduct a trade with Florida that allowed them to move from 59 to 47. They selected Long Beach native Matthew Nieto. Being an older player in the draft due to his November birthday, Nieto has one season at Boston University where he posted a respectable 21 points (eight goals and thirteen assists) along with sixteen penalty minutes. He was also the winner of back to back gold medals with team USA at the U-18 World Championships, and was invited to last season’s World Junior Championship camp. Before joining BU, he played his youth hockey in Southern California, spent a year at Salisbury Prep School in Connecticut, and then a year with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan.
Nieto projects to be a two-way forward with an offensive bend to his game. Expect him to spend two if not another three seasons with BU.
"A natural flowing hockey player" is how Justin Sefton been described by scouts. Already having an NHL ready body, standing at 6’2 and weighing 215lbs, Sefton claims to model his game after larger two-way NHL players like Chris Pronger and Dion Phaneuf.
The rough side of the game, like dropping the gloves, has never been a problem for Sefton as he put up 124 penalty minutes in 2010-11. However, this upcoming season his focus will be on improving his first pass out of the zone and picking his spots to jump in offensively. Often drawing the top line of all of the opposition, Sefton managed respectable numbers, posting five goals, six helpers, and a minus-eight rating.
A solid two-way center, Kuraly takes pride in playing in his own zone. Many feel that if he was more gifted offensively, he would have been a late first round pick. At Indiana, Kurly had a solid 29 point season including eight goals, four of which were shorthanded. What will earn him an NHL paycheck though is his play in the faceoff circle and outstanding penalty killing.
In the near future, Kuraly will return to Indiana for one more year, and then enter the University of Miami of Ohio. Expect the Sharks to take their traditionally patient approach with NCAA forwards and allow Kuraly to play in the NCAA for several seasons.
Kuraly projects as a checking forward who can create lots of energy and chip in offensively.
Daniil Sobchenko, C – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
6th Round, 166th overall
Daniil is an older draftee. The Sharks are taking a chance on this large center out of Russia after he was passed over in the 2010 draft. Sobchenko was not even invited to the under eighteen Russian camp when he fell out of favor with the Russian coach. The Kieve native is a playmaking center who also enjoys playing physically.
This past season Sobchenko put up great numbers with the Yaroslavl junior team (10 goals and 10 assists in 14 games) and earned a promotion to the KHL club. He skated in 16 games and scored a goal and assist with the big club. He was also impressive for Russia in the U20 WJCs, posting four goals and three assists in seven games.
The Sharks would love to get him over to North America, but if that happens it won’t be in the near future.
The London Ontario native just completed his first full season with the Majors following an up-and-down rookie season in 2009-10. This past season he posted 27 points, 70 penalty minutes, and was an impressive plus-31. His solid play continued in the post season with a plus-10 to go along with five points in 20 games.
A two-way defenseman, Demelo really does not do any one thing great, but does many things very well. "A perfect guy to pair with your number one defenseman," said one NHL scout. Expect him to play out his junior eligibility before possibly joining the Sharks organization.
Colin Blackwell, C – St John’s Prep (Mass H.S.)
7th Round, 194th overall
Colin moved up in the prospect rankings after winning the Massachusetts Coaches Association’s Robbie Ftorek Player of the Year award. He was the leading scorer at the Elite Super Eight Massachusetts High School tournament with 16 points in five games. The regular season he had a solid 66 points earning conference MVP honors. The plan was for Blackwell to play a season in Junior-A, and then attend Harvard. Head coach and former NHL player Ted Donato had other plans. He convinced Blackwell to attend Harvard this coming fall. Though smallish in size, he is a tremendous skater with some offensive upside. The Sharks will invite him to prospect camp and keep a close eye on him in the collegiate ranks. He will need time to develop physically, but could eventually carve out a niche as a depth forward for the Sharks organization.
Mike Murangi contributed this article.