Sharks Top 20 prospects

By Janine Pilkington

Top 20 at a Glance

1. (13) Joe Pavelski, C Age: 22
2. (4) Ty Wishart, D Age: 18
3. (2) Devin Setoguchi, RW Age: 20
4. (10) Taylor Dakers, G Age: 20
5. (11) Jamie McGinn, LW Age: 18
6. (17) Derek Joslin, D Age: 20
7. (6) Thomas Greiss, G Age: 21
8. (12) Torrey Mitchell, C Age: 22
9. (7) Lukas Kaspar, LW Age: 21
10. (16) Dan Spang, D Age: 23
11. (9) Dimitri Patzold, G Age: 24
12. (14) Mike Morris, RW Age: 23
13. (18) Alex Stalock, G Age: 19
14. (19) James DeLory, D Age: 19
15. (20) Mike Iggulden, C Age: 24
16. (NR) Tom Cavanagh, C Age: 25
17. (NR) P.J. Fenton, LW  Age: 21
18. (NR) Steven Zalewski, C Age: 20
19. (NR) Tomas Plihal, C Age: 24
20. (NR) Tony Lucia, LW Age: 19

1. (13) Joe Pavelski, C Age: 22
Acquired: 7th round, 205th overall (2003) Grade: 7.0A

Pavelski is an example of how little draft position matters in gauging where a player’s career will land. The 22-year-old has excelled at nearly every level he’s played, and following a solid career with the University of Wisconsin that included a NCAA title, Pavelski began his pro career in September of 2006 with the Worcester Sharks (AHL). It wasn’t long before it was apparent that the rookie forward was on the fast track. In just 16 games with Worcester, he scored a total 26 points, earning rookie of the month honors and playing a major role on offense. By mid November, he received a recall to the big club, where he stayed for the remainder of the season and totaled 28 points in 46 games. Pavelski is a little spark plug at 5’11 who makes things happen when he’s on the ice. He has excellent hockey sense, and his ability to read and anticipate plays often puts him in the right place at the right time. The rookie is well on his way to a successful NHL career.

2. (4) Ty Wishart, D Age: 18
Acquired: 1st Round, 16th Overall (2006) Grade: 8.0C

Wishart had some injury troubles early on, resulting in a rocky start to the 2006-07 season with Prince George. The 6’5 203 lbs defenseman put it all behind him, however, in a season that earned him honors as a second team All-Star for the WHL’s Western Conference and his first NHL contract. Wishart surpassed his point totals of the previous two seasons, with a total 49 points in 62 games and a +15. He has the size, mobility and the hockey sense to be a dominant defenseman, and is regularly matched against some of the opponents’ top players. In addition to his strength as a defenseman, he has a powerful shot and strong offensive capability. If he continues to develop, Wishart could well be a top pairing defenseman in the NHL.

3. (2) Devin Setoguchi, RW Age: 20
Acquired: 1st Round, 8th Overall (2005) Grade: 7.5B

Setoguchi stood an excellent chance of earning a roster spot with San Jose for the 2006-07 season, but injury took him out of the running, and the 20-year-old would return to the WHL for his fourth consecutive season. After three solid seasons playing for the Saskatoon Blades, that included a career-high 83 points in 65 games for the 2005-06 season, Setoguchi was moved to Prince George for his final WHL season. Despite some inconsistency with the team early on, and some minor injuries for Setoguchi, he still averaged more than a point per game for the Cougars and capped off the regular season at 65 points in 50 games. An incredible offensive talent, he’s an agile skater who demonstrates good puck control and a rocket of a shot. He’s a two-way forward who can goals yet also finishes his checks. Setoguchi has the potential to be a top six forward, and should begin his pro career in the 2007-08 season.

4. (10) Taylor Dakers, G Age: 20

Acquired: 5th Round, 140th Overall (2005) Grade: 7.5C

Dakers finished out his fourth in the WHL as one of the top goaltenders in the league, making Second Team All-Star for the East and earning the MVP award for his team. He played a total 48 games for the Kootenay Ice in the 2006-07 season, earning six shutouts and an impressive 30-10-2-2 record. His stats were equally impressive, as he owned a 2.16 GAA and .919 save percentage — fifth in the league for goals against and second for save percentage. At 6’2 170 lbs, he’s got good size, and is a combination of sound technical skills and a quick glove hand. Dakers is not easily rattled and has handled the starting position in stride. The 20-year-old is at the end of the road with juniors and ready to embark on his pro career next season. Following the Ice’s elimination, Dakers got the opportunity to travel with the SJ Sharks, where he will get a feel for the pro lifestyle, and remain with the team until the end of their playoff run. Dakers is at the top of a long line of talented goaltenders in the Sharks system, and has the potential to be an NHL starter.

5. (11) Jamie McGinn, LW Age: 18
Acquired: 2nd Round, 36th Overall (2006) Grade: 7.0C

McGinn played his third straight season with the Ottawa 67’s, this time on a line with Logan Couture and Arron Alphonso. He finished as the top scoring forward on the team at a career-high 89 points in 68 games. McGinn isn’t flashy, but he’s a high-energy forward who has the ability to dictate the momentum of a game. An aggressive forechecker, McGinn also has strong skating and puck control skills, and he won’t back down, whether it is in front of the net or along the boards. McGinn is now 6’0 187 lbs, making him a decent sized forward, and he’s making a case for a legitimate shot at a pro career. Depending on whether or not he can contribute some offense at the NHL level, McGinn has potential to be a second or third line player. He has signed a contract with the Sharks, and joined their AHL affiliate in Worcester following the close of Ottawa’s season.

6. (17) Derek Joslin, D Age: 20
Acquired: 5th Round, 149th Overall (2005) Grade: 7.0C

Joslin reached the end of his WHL career with the Ottawa 67’s where he served as one of the team’s captains for the 2006-07 season. The 6’1 175 lbs defenseman had a career high 49 points in 68 games and was on the winning Eastern Conference team during the OHL All-Stars. He has strong leadership qualities and brings a consistent effort to the rink every game. In short, he is the type of player who will step it up in key situations. Not overly physical, Joslin is a good skater with decent scoring upside, though he’s not quite an offensive defenseman either. He’s still on the lean side, especially for a defenseman, and will need to bulk up and work on his strength during his first couple pro seasons. He signed with the Sharks in December of 2006 and is expected to begin his pro career in the minors next season. Joslin signed a tryout contract with Worcester following the end of his season with Ottawa. He’s projected to be a middle pairing defender in the NHL.

7. (6) Thomas Greiss, G Age: 21

Acquired: 3rd Round, 94th Overall (2004) Grade: 7.0C

It took some time to get used to his first pro experience in North America, sharing net duty for the Worcester Sharks with Dmitri Patzold and Nolan Schaefer in the early part of the season. Over the course of the season, however, Greiss became the clear No. 1 for Worcester, making the majority of starts by early March. With Greiss between the pipes, the Sharks were 26-15-2, and the rookie capped off the regular season 17th among all goalies in the AHL, and third among all rookies in the league. He was named rookie of the year for the Worcester Sharks, helping the team to a spectacular late season finish that vaulted them into the playoffs. Greiss played a total 43 games with a 2.61 GAA and .912 save percentage. The 21-year-old netminder has good size and the ability to read and anticipate plays. He’s still quite young, and if he continues to develop, has the potential to be an NHL starter.

8. (12) Torrey Mitchell, C Age: 22
Acquired: 4th Round, 129th Overall (2004) Grade: 6.5B

Mitchell elected to forgo his senior year with the University of Vermont to sign with the Sharks in late March, following the conclusion of UVM’s season. He was co-captain of the 2006-07 Catamounts, and led the team in scoring with a total 35 points in 39 games. Mitchell is a talented two-way forward with a tremendous work ethic. The 5’11 193 lb Quebec native killed  penalties for UVM and had the only shorthanded goal in the 2006-07 season, yet he is also gifted when it comes to creating offense. In his three-year college career he earned rookie of the year honors for the Catamounts, and for two consecutive seasons he was earned Honorable Mention Hockey East All Star. He joined the Worcester Sharks following his junior season and picked up a total seven points and 27 penalty minutes in his first 11 professional games. Mitchell has the skillset and all the intangibles for a successful pro career, with the upside of a second line scoring center in the NHL.

9. (7) Lukas Kaspar, LW Age: 21
Acquired: 1st Round, 22nd Overall (2004) Grade: 7.0C

Kaspar finished out his second professional season in Worcester with a total 40 points in 78 regular season games, up just four points from his rookie season. The 21-year-old forward has performed well at the pro level, using a blend of smooth skating and considerable size and strength to gain control of the puck. He doesn’t go out of his way to be physical, but will hit and drive the net. Kaspar finished sixth on the Worcester Sharks in scoring, and fifth in shots taken, but despite showing a decent all-around effort, he hasn’t yet demonstrated the extreme offensive skill he’s been projected for. The bottom line is he is young and still developing, with just three seasons of North American hockey under his belt. The Czech Republic native still has the tools to become a successful NHL’er, with a ceiling of a scoring second line forward. However if he can’t put up significant numbers at the AHL level, the likelihood that he will do it in the NHL decreases, and Kaspar may level out as a third or fourth line NHL’er.

10. (16) Dan Spang, D Age: 23

Acquired: 2nd Round, 52nd Overall (2002) Grade: 6.5C

After four strong seasons playing for Boston University, Spang got a brief taste of the pro game with the Cleveland Barons at the end of the 2005-06 season. He played the 2006-07 season with the Worcester Sharks, and was well on his way to becoming one of the top rookies on the team until injury struck in early March. Spang totaled 25 points in the 48 regular season games he played. At 6’0 205 lbs, he’s a good sized defender, with exceptional leg strength and he’s a good skater who is strong on his skates. Spang can quarterback the power play, and has the speed to keep up with opposing forwards. Though primarily thought of as a defensive defenseman, he also owns considerable skill and should chip in the occasional point at the next level. Spang stands an excellent chance at an NHL career, where he could be a middle pairing defenseman.

11. (9) Dimitri Patzold, G Age: 24
Acquired: 4th Round, 107th Overall (2001) Grade: 6.5D

Patzold made the majority of his starts for Worcester towards the beginning of the season, but was ultimately unable to secure a starting role. He saw action in 24 regular season games, with a 10-8-3 record, during which he compiled a 3.35 GAA and .888 save percentage. He only made a total of four starts during the months of March and April, and while Patzold did make a few trips to San Jose as an emergency backup, he never saw any ice time. When the 24-year-old netminder is on top of his game, he’s poised with a combination of good reflexes and reaction time. While he hasn’t been terrible this season, he has been inconsistent, and with a full stable of goaltenders in their system, Patzold’s days with the Sharks organization may be numbered. He will need to amp up his effort if he’s to get a shot playing at the next level, but at this time, Patzold projects to be an NHL backup, possibly more if he sees improvement in the next couple years.

12. (14) Mike Morris, RW Age: 23
Acquired: 1st round, 27th overall (2002) Grade: 7.0D

Morris’ much anticipated return to the Northeastern lineup for the 2006-07 season had mixed results. After injury kept him out for the entire 2005-06 season, the senior forward needed time to get back into game shape. Despite this, Morris went on to become a key contributor for Northeastern, tallying a total 18 points in 20 games, and finishing out the season third on his team in scoring. Unfortunately injury would strike again in December, followed by an appendectomy that would once again cut his season short. Morris is a solid two-way forward with strong skating ability who not only brings skill to his team but leadership as well. He has a shot at a pro career, but his injury history raises many questions about his durability.

13. (18) Alex Stalock, G Age: 19
Acquired: 4th Round, 112th Overall (2005) Grade: 6.5C

As a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Alex Stalock had the daunting task of manning the net for a struggling team. Sharing duties with senior Josh Johnson, Stalock played in 18 games, during which he had a 5-14-3 record with a 3.34 GAA and .881 save percentage. While his numbers were not great, they don’t reflect the effort of the young netminder who consistently gave his team the opportunity to win. He had one shutout on the season, and a total of four assists. Stalock is an athletic goaltender who is known for his exceptional puckhandling skills. Aside from his skill between the pipes, he is also an excellent passer, and adept at getting the puck to his teammates. He’s still a number of years away from the NHL, but with continued development, Stalock has a shot at an NHL career. At the very least he should be a competent backup in the NHL, possibly with a higher ceiling if he applies himself.

14. (19) James DeLory, D Age: 19
Acquired: 4th Round, 98th Overall (2006) Grade: 6.5C

The big, hard-hitting defenseman finished up his third OHL season with the Oshawa Generals with a total 25 points in 61 games, down from his 2005-06 point totals. He led his team with penalty minutes at 167, and had four assists in the Generals nine-game postseason run. He has two game-winning goals to his credit for the 2006-07 season. DeLory is an excellent skater for a man of 6’5 212 lbs, and uses his size and strength to intimidate the opposition. He spent most of his younger years playing forward, only recently having been moved to the blueline, and he’s got a strong shot and decent offensive upside. He will need continued work on his overall game, particularly if he’s to play defense at the next level, but he’s a player of excellent size and strength, which could be one of his greatest assets as he turn pro. DeLory is projected to be a fifth or sixth defenseman in the NHL.

15. (20) Mike Iggulden, C Age: 24
Acquired: Free Agent (2006) Grade: 6.0C

Iggulden found improvement in his second pro season, finishing third on the Worcester Sharks with a total 57 points in 73 games. The 24-year-old power forward is making a case for himself at the pro level, where he has already proven he can put points on the board. Checking in at 6’3 215 lbs, Iggulden is not overly physical, but he does use his size to his advantage, and is a solid two-way forward. His awareness, puck carrying, and shooting skills are also quite strong, and overall, he’s a hard-working player. The former Cornell University forward is rounding into a strong free-agent pickup for the Sharks. It’s difficult to say whether his offensive skills will translate to the NHL level, but at the very least, he could someday see third or fourth line duty with the big club.

16. (NR) Tom Cavanagh, C Age: 25
Acquired: 6th round, 182nd (2001) Grade: 5.5B

Cavanagh was voted as Worcester’s Unsung Hero, and rightly so, for the Sharks’ forward has received little fanfare for his role on the team. In his second professional season, Cavanagh was a key part of Worcester’s penalty-killing unit, and on a whole, he improved upon his rookie season. He more than doubled his point totals, up from 21 total points in the 2005-06 season to 44 points in 74 games during the 2006-07 season. Cavanagh was tied for a team-best in shorthanded goals on the season. He is establishing himself as a solid two-way forward at the pro level, with good skating ability and strong work ethic. He served as one of the Sharks alternate captains this season, and is inching his way closer to a shot in the NHL, where, at the very least, he could see fourth-line duty.

17. (NR) P.J. Fenton, LW  Age: 21
Acquired: 5th round, 162nd overall (2005) Grade: 6.0C

University of Massachusetts forward PJ Fenton has progressed steadily since his freshman season, not so much in point production, but in his all-around game. Fenton played in all 39 games for UMass in the 2006-07 season, looking noticeably stronger on his skates, and tallying a total 25 points, which was third on the team. He brings tremendous work ethic and is a player who sees the ice well. His gritty, ultra-competitive style makes him valuable to the team, and it could well be his desire to succeed and strong work ethic that will lead him to a pro career. Fenton isn’t likely to be a huge offensive contributor at the next level, but he brings so much more to the table.

18. (NR) Steven Zalewski, C Age: 20
Acquired: 5th round, 153rd overall (2004) Grade: 6.0C

Zalewski had a strong junior season with Clarkson, and finished fourth on his team with a total 34 points in 39 games. Of 16 total goals on the season, he had four game-winning goals and six on the power play. One of his biggest strengths was his consistent play, where he regularly contributed offensively and was strong in the face-off circle. Zalewski played with confidence, was strong on the puck and also appeared to benefit from work on his strength and skating. He’s a solid two-way forward who has shown steady progress since his freshman season with the Golden Knights. His offensive capability and defensive awareness should make him an asset at the next level, though he may not see more than third or fourth line duty in the NHL. Zalewski has another season to go before he wraps up his college career, however, and with continued work, he has a good shot at a pro career.

19. (NR) Tomas Plihal, C Age: 24
Acquired: 5th round, 140th overall (2001) Grade: 7.0D

Plihal’s numbers have been somewhat disappointing in his fourth season in the AHL, appearing in only a total 47 games with a total 15 points. He has played well, however, and for the second season in a row, earned a recall to San Jose. Plihal appeared in just three games for the big club, and though he didn’t register any points, he had a total eight shots on goal, and left a good impression with the Sharks brass. The 24-year-old Czech native has good hands and excellent stickhandling ability. At 6’1 195 lbs, he has good size, and a willingness to use the body. He had some injury troubles for the 2006-07 season, however, and he has not yet had a consistent pro season offensively. He’s a player who seems to be on the cusp, close to the NHL, but not quite productive enough to earn a full-time job. Plihal has the upside to play on a second line in the NHL, but it appears more likely that he will be third or fourth line forward at that level.

20. (NR) Tony Lucia, LW Age: 19
Acquired: 6th round, 193rd overall (2005) Grade: 6.0D

Lucia completed his freshman season at the University of Minnesota, playing under his father, Gophers head coach Don Lucia. He progressed over the season, finishing with a total 19 points in 43 games, and established himself as one of the more physical players on the team. Lucia is a high-energy forward and a tough competitor. Overall he’s defensively responsible, and does what it takes to help his team, whether it is throwing a check, blocking shots, or killing penalties. Lucia has a way to go before he’s ready to play pro hockey, but he’s got the benefit of an excellent college hockey program, and appears to have to work ethic to further his career. He will need to fill out his frame and continue to work on his strength and overall game. If he continues to progress throughout his college career, Lucia could someday make an excellent checking line forward in the NHL.

D.J. Powers contributed to this article.  Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.