Compared to past years, the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was very quiet for the San Jose Sharks and GM Doug Wilson. The team did nothing in terms of draft day trades, which is unusual, but the organization was still able to select their target player, Tomas Hertl from the Czech League. The Sharks looked at moving up if Hertl might not be available at the 17th overall spot and had decided they would trade down if he was taken early.
Wilson made only one trade on day two at the draft, sending his 191th overall and a fourth-rounder in 2013 to the Chicago Blackhawks for their 109th overall selection in this year's draft. Overall, San Jose added solid organizational depth by selecting four forwards along with two defensemen in 2012.
Tomas Hertl, C – Slavia Praha HC (Czech)
1st round, 17th overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 198 lbs
The Sharks decided that the right pick for their first rounder was Tomas Hertl who can play all forward positions and has the physical game to match his offensive skills. The 18-year old Czech played this past season against men in the Czech league, scoring 12 goals along with 13 assist and a good plus-nine rating in 38 games for Slavia Praha. The talented playmaker was one of the best players for his Czech team at the 2012 WJC.
Hertl has upside potential to be a centerman who can play in all situations; he can defend, has a long reach, has an ability to strip pucks, can make offensive plays, and can play very well in the tight and dirty areas of ice. The big, agile Czech has good quickness and when combined with his excellent hockey sense, has shown the ability to adjust his skating speed with ease.
The first-rounder will need little time to adjust to the North American style of play but must improve his four-step acceleration and stride technique to give him more time and space to maximize his offensive ability. Hertl could compete for a roster spot at the Sharks' NHL training camp, but San Jose could also try to convince him to play in the CHL or allow him to stay in the Czech league for another year.
Chris Tierney, C – London Knights (OHL)
2nd Round, 55th overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 181 lbs
Chris Tierney is a player who fell badly in the scouts' rankings but played for the 2012 Memorial Cup finalists, London Knights. San Jose selected Tierney as their second round choice, believing that the physical centerman didn't receive much ice time on a very good hockey club and has more offensive potential when given more opportunities this upcoming season in the OHL.
The solid two-way centerman has the potential to be a high-end playmaker, is already an excellent penalty killer, has good hockey sense, and brings a good work ethic to every shift. Having just turned 18 years old on July 1st, Tierney like all young prospects needs to add more strength while continuing to improve his overall game. The second-rounder will have time to develop on a very good young London Knights team over the next two years in the OHL.
San Jose made the deal with Chicago to trade up in the draft to get Christophe Lalancette. The Sharks' scouts really like his potential offensive upside and his versatile game which could allow him to play other roles for the team should his offense not materialize at the NHL level.
Lalancette is a high energy playmaker who has good vision, speed, and already has a good two-way game. He has good hands and scores most of his goals by always going to the net while possessing solid inside finishing skills. The 18-year-old needs to add more strength and size along with improving his four-step acceleration for separation with the puck. The young Quebecer will have two more years of development at the junior level in the QJMHL and should put up even better offensive numbers with his new confidence after being selected by the Shark at the NHL draft.
Dan O'Regan, C – St. Sebastien School Arrows (Mass HS)
5th round, 138th overall
Height: 5'9 Weight: 169 lbs
It may have been Daniel O'Regan's small stature which made him fall to the Sharks late in the draft but hockey size is measured more by the player's heart and desire which this 18-year-old has in abundance. The little spark-plug was one of Team USA's better forwards at the IIHF U18 Tournament this year and was the lone non-NTDP player on the team.
O'Regan plays well in all three zones of the ice due to his excellent speed, toughness, and solid hockey IQ. The playmaking centerman has high-end offensive skills, creativity, and vision which allow him to make his linemates play better. The talented forward has committed to Boston University where his father also played. As he builds strength over his development at the NCAA level, O'Regan could become an offensive force.
Clifford Watson, D – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
6th Round, 168th overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 200 lbs
San Jose selected Cliff Watson mostly for his hockey smarts but the stay-at-home defender plays very physical around his own net and can play the shutdown role. The big blueliner has some offensive upside, good poise with the puck, and can make good outlet passes up the ice.
Watson was committed early to Ohio State University and will have four years of development to work on his skating speed, pivots, and better angling while gaining more strength and improving his offensive skills. The Shark could have a solid two-way defenseman but only time will tell if they made the right choice.
Joakim Ryan, D – Cornell University (ECAC)
7th Round, 198th overall
Height: 5'11 Weight: 183 lbs
The Sharks may have found a hidden gem with their late-round selection of Joakim Ryan who had an outstanding first year at Cornell University where he set a new record for goals in a season by freshman defensemen with seven goals in 34 NCAA games. The puck moving defender had an easier transition to the NCAA level after playing a full season and winning a Championship with Dubuque in the USHL.
Ryan is an excellent skater, has good hockey smarts, reads the play well, and can activate up into the rush to create offense from the back-end. The stocky blueliner could be a good two-way player and already plays on both of the specialty team units at Cornell. He will need to add more strength and improve his angling along with defensive positioning over his development at the NCAA level to have a chance to play in the NHL.