The month of April saw the Sharks improve the quality of their prospect depth chart markedly by signing defenseman Tom Preissing and sophomore center Grant Stevenson.
The question of where the undrafted Tom Preissing would sign was answered April 4 when the San Jose Sharks announced they had signed one of college hockey’s top offensive defensemen. The 24-year old senior out of Colorado College was the highest scoring defenseman in college hockey accumulating 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points in 42 games. Preissing’s 17 power play goals were second in the nation behind Michigan’s Greg Hogeboom. (Hogeboom had 17 as well, but played one less game.)
For his exploits, the 6-0 195-pound Preissing was named one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, as well as being named to the JOFA/AHCA All-American West First Team, as well as the All-WCHA First Team. For the Tigers, Preissing was co-winner of the Paul Markovich Award (top student athlete), the Rodman Award (sportsman- and leadership), and the Tony Frasca Award (top play-off player).
Colorado College finished tops in the WCHA with a 19-4-5 record. The Tigers’ overall record of 30-7-5 saw the finish second in the final United States College Hockey Online national poll and fifth in the final USA Today/American Hockey Magazine national poll. The Tigers lost to the University of Minnesota in the WCHA Finals, and lost to the University of Michigan in the NCAA Midwest Regional Finals.
Adding another right-shooting defenseman, Preissing will likely battle 21-year old German defenseman Christian Ehrhoff for a spot on the Sharks next season. Preissing, known for his good speed, stick skills, and willingness to the play (intelligently), has the offensive upside to challenge 25-year old Jim Fahey as the Sharks’ future power play quarterback.
The Sharks pulled off a surprise when 21-year old sophomore Grant Stevenson was signed from Minnesota State University-Mankato. Stevenson had a break-out year in his second season scoring 27 goals and 36 assists in 38 games, making the right-shooting center the highest scoring sophomore in the country, good for fifth in the nation and fourth in the WCHA.
Teaming with left wing Shane Joseph, Stevenson was able to help lead the Mavericks to a second-place tie with the Minnesota Golden Gophers for second in the WCHA with a conference record of 15-6-7, and an overall record of 20-11-10. This record was good for final ranking of 11th in both the USCHO and the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine polls. Mankato only managed to finish fourth the WCHA play-offs, losing to Minnesota-Duluth. Invited to the NCAA National Tournament, the Mavericks lost in the NCAA East Regional Semifinals to eventual winner Cornell.
Stevenson’s exploits earned him a spot on the JOFA All-American West Second Team, the All-WCHA First Team. The 6’0” 180-pound Stevenson will likely find himself as the first or second center in Cleveland next season, but the speedy playmaker, who also can score some goals, has an outside shot at playing in the NHL next season depending how San Jose’s summer shakes out.
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