Just a day after trading defensemen Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for draft picks, San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson made it clear that the team would not be rebuilding like many suspected; it would be refreshing.
The trades involving Murray, Ryane Clowe, and Jamie McGinn (a 2012 trade deadline move) were all made possible by the much improved San Jose prospect pool. The team felt it had enough depth to still compete now, while getting younger and better with some of their homegrown talent. Good things are finally starting to climb out of the pool, and the development of young stars like newly signed Tomas Hertl take the sting out of losing long time staples and fan favorites like Clowe.
With eight picks in the very deep 2013 NHL Draft (including four picks in the first two rounds), Doug Wilson and company will have the chance to replenish the system in Newark, New Jersey.
Top 10 Prospects:
The lack of scoring from anyone outside of the top two lines in the 2013 playoffs and for the better half of the regular season made it painfully obvious that GM Wilson will need to address the team’s forward depth – most notably they need to find a talented winger to play alongside Joe Pavelski. Hertl should remedy some of this immediate pain, but with key pieces from the forward core on the last leg of their contracts, and very few heirs apparent to take over positions on the top two lines outside of the Czech star, the team is going to need to start building to that thinking about the future now.
When teams are having trouble scoring (the Sharks finished 24th in the league in goals per game) a lot falls on the shoulders of the goaltenders. While Antti Niemi played very well all season long, Thomas Greiss, in his first real season as the clubs back-up looked a bit out of his element during his six games played. played. With Greiss’ contract set to expire, the team could look to acquire a proven backup if they do not have full faith in Greiss, Alex Stalock, or one of the prospects in Worcester.
While Dan Boyle is still playing great hockey, the move of Brent Burns to forward caused a huge ripple on the blue line, and depending on what happens to Burns going forward, and how the Sharks choose to deal with Boyle’s contract in 2014, there could be a substantial hole on the back end. As of right now, it is not as dire as the immediate need for scoring depth up front, but it is a very fragile situation.
Similar to the last few seasons, the Sharks have a very bountiful stable of physical two-way players (particularly centers) capable of shutting down the opposition. Freddie Hamilton, Chris Tierney, and Sean Kuraly lead this list, with Hamilton the closest to making an NHL splash.
The team is also very deep on the blue line. There are many significant prospects on the cusp of becoming NHL regulars (perhaps the only reason they are not there is because of organizational depth at the position) and even more just about to begin their pro career. The organization features one of the best collective group of offensively-minded defensemen in all of hockey.
The Sharks biggest weakness from the top down is their inability to score. Outside of Hertl, Matt Nieto, and perhaps Dan O’Regan, there is not a lot of high-end offensive skilled forwards in this group, especially at the wing.
The Sharks will enter the 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey with eight selections; picks 20, 49, 50, 58, 111, 141, 201, and 207.
Since becoming General Manager of the Sharks in 2003, Wilson has made a name for himself as a wheeler and dealer on draft day. Do not be surprised if he moves a pick. He has also only selected a defenseman once with a first round pick in the eight previous attempts he has had. Size was also a factor with that first round pick, as Wilson’s Sharks have yet to draft anyone under six feet.
Other trends include that the Sharks have not drafted from the WHL in their last 23 selections. The last goalie the team drafted was Harri Sateri in 2008 (the signing of Troy Grosenick perhaps might signify that the team is done at this position but there is an age gap within the organization). The team is most familiar with the Ottawa 67’s franchise during Wilson’s reign having gone to the nation’s capital five times. The team tends to draft North American born players, but they have done quite well with the odd European draft pick. Perhaps the most interesting fact of all, the last three Sharks drafts featured a pick from a Massachusetts high school and their scouting staff has done quite well there; the team could draft the underrated Brian Pinho, Miles Wood, or big defensemen Connor Light with a late round selection.
Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft Results:
The QMJHL's leading goal scorer was not Nathan Mackinnon (22nd), Jonathan Drouin (7th), or even Valentin Zykov (10th), it was Anthony Mantha of the Val-d'Or Foreurs, who over the course of the season tickled the twine 50 times. In a sport where the objective is to score more times than your opposition, players who can do this often, and do it well are highly sought after. Despite his NHL frame at 6'4" and 190 pounds, the late-blooming forward is not a physical force and plays more of a sneaky game; he has an uncanny way of finding the open spaces on the ice like all great offensive players do, and because of his quick release, hard shot, and long reach, he is a dangerous player. It should be noted that Mantha's consistency and his defensive play have come into question, and are likely the reason for his fall on many draft boards. Under the right development structure, Mantha could be one of the best offensive players to come from the entire 2013 draft.