Sharks 2000 Draft Preview

By Mike Delfino

As the Sharks head into the 2000 draft, barring any draft day trades, the Sharks will not end up with any bluechip prospects, or anyone ready to fill holes immediately. Being a weak draft, and since the Sharks enter this draft with no first round pick, the chances of them picking up anyone of substance are slim.
Holes the Sharks may try to fill this year are up front, as their defense is set for years to come. Unless a top goaltending prospect drops into the 3rd round, I don’t expect them to pick a goalie until the 5th round. Their most important need at this point resides at left wing where the Sharks remain thin and center, which is still a question mark.
The Sharks’ 1st round selection belongs to the Montreal Canadians as a result of the deal that brought Vincent Damphousse to San Jose. Barring any draft day trades, which I would not be surprised at, the Sharks will enter a draft for the first time without a first round draft pick.
The Sharks hold the option whether to give Montreal this year’s 2nd round choice or their 2nd round choice in 2001 as a result of the Damphousse trade. My opinion is that the Sharks should give Montreal this year’s pick for 2 main reasons. First, this draft simply isn’t very good, and 2001′s draft is very good. Next year, the Sharks could easily acquire a 2nd tier prospect in the 2nd round (a player normally a late 1st rounder). Second, next year’s pick is likely to be lower given an expected improvement next year.
However, due to the Sharks not having a 1st round pick, GM Dean Lombardi will likely keep this year’s pick. The player I’m going to go with for the Sharks is Ben Knopp who played last year in Moose Jaw of the WHL. Knopp is a strong player who works best when he has added responsibilities. A Right Wing, he’ll need to learn how to use his team better though. Knopp had a strong rookie year, and has a lot of upside potential. He plays both ends of the ice well, and has very good hands.
The Sharks’ third round pick belongs to the Rangers as a result of the 3-way trade that sent Mike Vernon to Florida. However, the Sharks own the Rangers’ 3rd round pick (via TB) as a result of the trade that brought Nik Sundstrom to San Jose. With that 3rd pick, I expect the Sharks to stay at forward, choosing Right Wing Miguel Delisle from Ottawa of the OHL. Delisle is a strong forward with decent skating ability who is also strong in his own zone. He is someone who has improved his stock of late, yet could still be available early in the 3rd round. He could also be chosen any time in the 2nd round.
In the 4th round, I have the Sharks going back to Moose Jaw, picking Wing, Steven Crampton. Others have described Crampton as a poor man’s Mike Ricci at hockeysfuture.com. While he’s not the best skater in the world, he does a lot of things that make a player successful in the NHL. He’s willing to use his body to control the puck, and knows when to pick his spots on offense.
With three 5th round draft choices, the Sharks may begin to diversify their draft selections. Their first selection in the 5th round is in Chicago’s spot, and I have the Sharks selecting Tyson Motz, Goaltender from Swift Current. In limited action this year, Motz performed admirably with a 10-6-2 record a .872 saves % and a GAA of 3.04. While his numbers don’t jump out at you, he showed an ability to maintain his team’s level of play, and not be a liability. He’ll have more time to play next year, and could find his stock rising next year.
The Sharks’ second 5th round selection is their own, where I predict the Sharks to pick Chris Berti, the giant center from Sarnia of the OHL. At 6’5″ he needs to fill out his body, but he has 3rd or 4th line potential if he can round out his game more. He is a tough player who uses his size to his advantage and protects the puck well. He isn’t much of a goal scorer, but is strong defensively, something a Darryl Sutter led team likes.
Their final selection in the 5th round is from Detroit where I have the Sharks back at their blueline, if nothing else to solidify their team in Kentucky. With this pick, I have the Sharks picking Antoine Bergeron from Val D’or of the QMJHL. Bergeron is a strong defenseman who can move the puck, and play sound positional hockey.
The Sharks’ first pick in the 6th round is Vancouver’s spot, and I have the Sharks going to Europe for the first time, picking Tim Eriksson of Sweden. While not a big wing, Eriksson is a skilled center who sees the ice very well and is an excellent skater. I must admit that this pick is not a player who I have seen, but rather going by raving reports I’ve heard of him from someone who has been right in the past. He’s a project player, but that is expected once you get past the 5th round.
For the Sharks pick in the 6th round, I have them going to high school, picking Adam Gerlach from Hastings High School. I am not going to lie and say I’ve seen him play, because I haven’t. The reason I pick him is simply because I like his combination of size and numbers. At 6’1″ averaging a goal a game, and almost an assist a game, and with some penalty minutes as well, it would seem from the very perimeter that he has at least some skill, and would be interesting to see his development through college.
With the Sharks final pick, in the 8th round, I like to have a little fun. This year, I’m going to pick the player with the oddest name, and have him on my list for the sole reason of comic relief. This year, my Mr. Irrelevant pick is Daniel Ljungqvist from the Sweden Jr. team. Here’s the extent of my information on him. He’s 6’0″ 183 pounds, and is a defenseman. Oh yea, there is one other thing I know about him, arena announcers throughout the NHL will stand no chance of pronouncing his name, and the little devil in me loves listening to them stutter their way through.

Recapping the Sharks picks in this year’s draft, and my choices. I want to stress that especially once you get into the 5th round, these choices are nothing more than guesses. Once the draft begins and I see who is being chosen, I then have a decent track record. As for these things go, take them with a grain of salt, and if any of these nine players get chosen by the Sharks, well, I’ll be bragging for years how I called it…

2nd round (if kept) Ben Knopp
3rd round (from NYR) Miguel Delisle
4th round Steven Crampton
5th round (from Chicago) Tyson Motz
5th round Chris Berti
5th round (from Detroit) Antoine Bergeron
6th round (from Vancouver) Tim Eriksson
6th round Adam Gerlach
8th round Daniel Ljungqvist