10. (11) Michael Brodzinski, D, 7.0C
Drafted 5th Round, 141st overall, 2013
Brodzinski appears to have taken a huge step forward in 2015-16. Out from the shadows of Mike Reilly (now with the Minnesota Wild), the University of Minnesota offense and defense runs through Brodzinski. Once thought of as a pure rover, Brodzinski’s defensive game has risen to a whole new height. As his defensive game has flourished, his offensive game has started to reform: he is on the cusp of being a really good player. Brodzinski has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points (a career high) including a hat trick against Wisconsin earlier in the calendar year. Similar to Joakim Ryan, the 5’11 Brodzinski will be faced with size concerns going forward, but from a pure skill, ability, and intelligence standpoint he might just be the best defenseman in this pool. How he adapts and reacts to the pro game in two years will be interesting.
9. (14) Noah Rod, LW/RW, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd Round, 53rd overall, 2014
Rod finished last year’s campaign with a lot of question marks regarding his ability in the offensive zone as he amassed a mere four points in a 38 game season. His huge offensive turnaround this year has answered some of those questions. Rod quadrupled his production for Geneve-Servette HC scoring seven goals and nine assists, all while playing the antagonistic style he has become well-known for. Against his own age group, Rod continues to thrive. At times during U20 play for Switzerland Rod was the best player on the ice (including Timo Meier), a direct result of battling men for most of the past three seasons in the NLA.
8. (8) Rourke Chartier, C, 7.0C
Drafted 5th Round, 149th overall, 2014
Chartier has had a good, if slightly disappointing, season for the Kelowna Rockets. 32 points in 33 games isn’t a terrible season by any stretch, but considering he had an 82 point season last year, the drop in production in his draft+2 year is discouraging. Chartier’s ability to grind and forecheck remains impeccable and he’s very good at overpowering weaker kids. His penalty killing (as witnessed on Team Canada at the World Juniors) is a very strong part to his game, but he can no longer be considered a consistent offensive threat (especially without a healthy Nick Merkley) whether it has become a work ethic issue, matchup targeting, or a lingering injury, one thing’s for certain, Chartier is a worse player this year than he was last. He still remains a very good player, but expectations should now be lowered.
7. (10) Dylan DeMelo, D, 7.0C
Drafted 6th Round, 179th overall, 2011
Dylan DeMelo has had a very solid 2015-16 season. He basically came out of relative prospect obscurity, to leapfrog Mirco Mueller and Matt Tennyson within the organization’s immediate plans, and quickly became a good third pairing option for the San Jose Sharks. In his 33 games with the big club this year, DeMelo registered two goals and two assists, but it was his steady play on the backend, and second power play unit versatility that earned him the respect of his coach. While the recent Roman Polak trade cost DeMelo his NHL job, what with the club wanting more experience for their playoff push, the future looks very bright for DeMelo who at the very least has shown effective third-pairing capability.
6. (5) Jeremy Roy, D, 7.5D
Drafted 2nd Round, 31st overall, 2015
Faced with a slight drop in production over the past year, Jeremy Roy’s 2015-16 season has been one of increased growing pains. The young Quebec defender has increased his goal production by one (to six) but saw his point total drop to 34 from 43. Used heavily in an offensive role, Roy plays in all situations, but it has become apparent that the Sherbrooke Phoenix team leans on, and favors Carl Neill (VAN) when the game is on the line, rather than the higher-drafted Roy. At the moment, Roy’s drop in play isn’t alarming but it should be watched closely.
5. (7) Dan O’Regan, C/W, 7.0C
Drafted 5th Round, 138th overall, 2012
O’Regan has looked like a capable hockey player playing for Boston University in the post-Eichel era. Despite a drop in production from last year, O’Regan’s 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points leads the Terriers, and comes in at a better point per game pace than O’Regan’s previous best (in his rookie season alongside current Shark Matt Nieto). The senior has far and away been the best player on his team, and while he likely projects as a complementary top-nine player (similar to Matt Nieto) he has shown this season to possess a little more gamebreaking ability than his former teammate.
4. (4) Mirco Mueller, D, 7.5C
Drafted 1st Round, 18th overall, 2013
Mirco Mueller is at times a frustrating player to watch. He has a tremendous set of tools, but it is quickly becoming apparent he lacks the hockey intelligence to really take advantage of his physical attributes. Mueller has spent the year between the Sharks and Barracuda, and while he hasn’t been terrible, he hasn’t done much to get excited about either. It’s hard to believe that this player is only 20 years old given his NHL experience, and a lot of the mistakes, indecisiveness, and sloppy plays can be forgiven, but eventually Mueller is going to have to start paying to his skill level before fans and management become restless.
3. (6) Joonas Donskoi, RW, 7.5C
Signed as a Free Agent May 2015
Joonas Donskoi has lived up to the hype. The 23-year old has exploded onto the scene, and quickly established himself as a very capable and reliable top-nine forward for the Sharks. Registering 28 points in 58 games (tied for 11th in Rookie scoring), is only half of the story. Donskoi is proving on a nightly basis to be one of more adept Sharks in the defensive zone. If not for an exceptional rookie class, Donskoi would be getting a lot more league-wide recognition for his timely play, and excellent hands in close to the net. It’s not hard to imagine Donskoi becoming an even better player moving forward, especially if he continues to earn increased ice time.
2. (3) Nikolay Goldobin, RW, 7.5C
Drafted 1st Round, 27th overall, 2014
In his first full professional season with the San Jose Barracuda, Russian sniper Nikolay Goldobin has lived up to his scouting report; amazing offense, no defense. The 20-year old winger sits third in Barracuda scoring registering 31 points in 43 games, and has been a dynamic offensive weapon for a team that so desperately needed scoring. Even in his brief stint with the big club, Goldobin did not look out of place playing alongside Joe Thornton in the offensive zone. Defense is a whole different issue, and until Goldobin can attain a certain level of reliability and dependability, it’ll be difficult to see him getting more than an injury call-up in the near future. Nevertheless, Goldobin’s offensive skills are world class, and he will one day find his way into a permanent role with the Sharks.
1. (1) Timo Meier, W, 8.0C
Drafted 1st Round, 9th overall, 2015
Timo Meier holds onto his crown as the top Sharks prospect in the system. The physically powerful Meier has had a solid post-draft season from a statistical standpoint. Splitting time between the Halifax Mooseheads and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (via trade), Meier has amassed 76 points in 46 games, a slight increase in his per game point production from last season. Meier’s play before and after the trade to the QMJHL’s best team in the league, and in the World Junior Championships brought to light a slightly bad revelation: Meier struggles as the go-to guy. While he has the ability to be leaned upon, and can be a very good player at times, he is not an elite gamebreaker. When teams focus on him, he has a propensity to break under pressure. His game was very inconsistent when he wore the C for the Mooseheads, and he was almost non-existent in the round robin of the World Juniors. On a line with Francis Perron (OTT) however, one of the QMJHL’s leading scorers, Meier once again looks like a very good prospect. He just isn’t the engine that makes a line run.