A Look Back: The Sharks Drafts; 1991-1995, Part 1

By pbadmin
Ever since the NHL has held Entry Drafts, drafting has largely determined how a team’s success, or there lack of. As you all have heard, the 2000 NHL just occurred. It’s now time to take a blast to the past! So here’s a look back at the Sharks drafts from 1991-1995, along with analyses, in-depth reports on prominent players, and “Where Are They Now?” of former Sharks prospects. Part 1 will deal with the drafts from 1991-1993. I hope you enjoy this update (just to warn you, it’s A LOT to read)!

1991 Entry Draft

2nd Pat Falloon
23rd Ray Whitney
30th Sandis Ozolinsh
45th Dody Wood
67th Kerry Toporowski
89th Dan Ryder
111th Fredrik Nilsson
133rd Jaroslav Otevrel
155th Dean Grillo
177th Corwin Saurdiff
199th Dale Craigwell
221st Aaron Kriss
243rd Mikhail Kravets

Well, that was the inaugural draft for the Sharks. Pat Falloon (taken right behind Eric Lindros) never panned out the way the Sharks expected, but they were able to find two gems in the second round (Whitney and Ozolinsh). None of the other draft picks have made a significant impact in the NHL. With the 2nd pick overall in any draft, you would like to get a franchise-type player, whom the organization can greatly benefit from. Pat could not fulfill that role, and has bounced around in the NHL as mainly a role player. With the emphasis on scouting not as great as today, the late picks did not pan out for the Sharks in 91. Here’s a further look.

With the second overall draft pick, the Sharks choose a high-scoring right winger from Spokane of the WHL, Pat Falloon. Unfortunately for the Sharks, Pat has not carried his level of success in juniors to the NHL. The Sharks traded him during the 95/96 season to the Philadelphia Flyers. While in a Sharks uniform, Pat amassed 162 points in 258 games. Through the duration of his NHL career, he has played for five teams (most recently the Pittsburgh Penguins). Although Pat has been a decent NHL player, his NHL play has not yet justified his high draft status.

The Sharks hit gold in the second round. With the first pick in the second round (23rd overall), the Sharks nabbed another high scoring forward (180+ points during his last year of junior) from Spokane, Ray Whitney. Ray had some very solid and productive years in San Jose, but he did not blossom into the star he is today until the Florida Panthers rescued him off of waivers. Ray has solidified himself on Florida’s first line along with Pavel Bure and Viktor Kozlov.

With their third pick in the draft (second round, 30th overall), the Sharks selected Sandis Ozolinsh. To this day, Sandis has been one of the most productive players the Sharks have drafted. Sandis was an instrumental player for the Sharks during their playoff runs in 93/94 and 94/95. After his dispute with management, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Owen Nolan. As of today, Sandis is still a star defenseman (who was recently swapped to the Carolina Hurricanes), and Owen Nolan is one of the premier power forwards in the NHL. The knock on Sandis is his defensive game. Sandis likes to jump into the play, and he often looks more suited for a forward position. Sandis is one of the premier power-play quarterbacks in the NHL, but his defensive game cannot always be trusted.

As for the rest of the draft picks that year, none of them have become regulars in the NHL. Here’s a little “Where Are They Now?” Dody Wood (45th overall) played parts of five seasons with the Sharks. After being dealt to the New Jersey Devils in 97/98, Dody has not been able to make his way back into the NHL. He is currently a member of the Kansas City Blades, the team he started his professional career with. Kerry Toporowski (67th overall) has never made it into the NHL. He played last year with the Quad-City Mallards of the UHL. Dan Ryder (89th overall) has also never played in the NHL. He spent the 97/98 season with the Saginaw Lumber Kings of the UHL. Fredrik Nilsson (111th overall) is currently playing with Jokerit Helsinki in Finland. Jaroslav Otevrel (133rd overall) was last spotted playing for Assat Pori of the Finnish league in 95/96. He played 13 games in the NHL (all with the Sharks), registering 7 points. Dean Grillo (155th overall) was another late-round selection that never played in the NHL. Dean last played in Finland in 97/98. Corwin Saurdiff (177th overall), was a goaltender who has playing in the minors since graduating from the University of Northern Michigan after the 92/93 season. He played this season with the San-Antonio Iguanas of the CHL. Dale Craigwell (199th overall) played in 98 NHL games, all with the Sharks. He recorded 11 goals and 18 assists, good for 29 points. He played last season in the British Super League with the Sheffield Steelers, the team he will continue to play for next year. Dale is one of the most dominant players in the BISL, centering Sheffield’s first line. Aaron Kriss (221st overall) is a defenseman who has been playing in the minors since graduating from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (where current Sharks prospect Mark Concannon plays). Aaron spent the 99/00 season with the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL. The last pick during the 1991 draft was Mikhail Kravets (243rd overall). After He has appeared in 2 NHL games with the Sharks, registering no points. He split the year with the Arkansas River Blades and the Mississippi Sea Wolves of the ECHL.

1992 Entry Draft

3rd Mike Rathje
10th Andrei Nazarov
51st Alexander Cherbayev
75th Jan Caloun
99th Marcus Ragnarsson
123rd Michal Sykora
147th Eric Bellerose
171st Ryan Smith
195th Chris Burns
219th Alex Kholomeyev
243rd Victor Ignatjev

The second ever draft for the San Jose Sharks in 1992 landed them current Sharks Mike Rathje and Marcus Ragnarsson, two solid NHL defensemen. Nazarov has turned out to be a solid Nhler, Caloun will be given another shot at the NHL due to expansion, and Sykora is still an extremely talented defenseman, even though he is not in the NHL. This was a pretty good draft talent wise.

To start off the draft, the Sharks choose a HUGE defenseman from Medicine Hat of the WHL named Mike Rathje (3rd overall). “Rat” developed slowly, and this pick was questioned by some just a few years ago. Since then Mike has slowly (and quietly) developed into a very solid NHL defenseman. He figures greatly into the Sharks plans for the future. Every year Mike seems to get better, and his development should continue in all areas. As he learns to play more physical (like the way he played against the Blues in the playoffs), his game will improve. He probably will not get as good as projected in his draft year, but the Sharks aren’t complaining.

With the 10th overall pick, the Sharks selected Andrei Nazarov. While “Nasty” never developed fully with the Sharks, he has made himself into a solid NHL power forward with the Calgary Flames. Andrei is coming off his best season in the NHL (76 GP, 10G, 22 A, 32 PT, 78 PIM). He is finally showing why the Sharks selected him 10th overall in 92.

Quite frankly, the best pick in 92 was Marcus Ragnarsson (99th overall). Marcus was a veteran of the Swedish Elite League when he was drafted by the Sharks. Over the last five years, Marcus has been one of the most solid (and consistent) Sharks. Marcus is solid like a rock on defense, and he can be counted to play well against the top forwards in the NHL. He battles hard, and makes good defensive decisions. One of his few weaknesses is on offense. Marcus is often hesitant to shoot even with an open lane to the goal. He sometimes tends to pass when the situation calls for him to put the puck on net and create a rebound. I’ve been noticing this more and more with Marcus (and many other current Sharks as a matter of fact).

Jan Caloun (75th overall) has been a gifted scorer at every level (Finland, IHL, AHL, and his short NHL stint). So why has he been playing the last few years in Finland (where he has posted 201 points in 136 games for HIFK Helsinki)? Jan simply did not play defense while in North America. With Darryl Sutter as coach, there was no chance for Jan to stick with the Sharks. After being rescued by the expansion Blue Jackets, Jan will most likely get another chance to prove he belongs in the NHL. If his defense has improved, Jan will stick.

The highly-talented Michal Sykora was selected with the 123rd overall choice. Michal was the main reason the Blackhawks traded Ed Belfour to the San Jose Sharks. After clashing with Tampa Bay Lightning management last season, Michal has returned to Europe. I believe Michal represented the Czech Republic at the recent World Championships. Michal is one of the better players currently not in the NHL (outside of young prospects in the minor leagues). I do not know about Michal’s thoughts on returning to the NHL, but if he ever does, there will be a job for him.

And now a look at some of the prospects that didn’t quite make it. Alexander Cherbayev (51st overall) was a highly touted prospect coming out of Khimik of the CIS. He never made a NHL appearance. He spent 96/97 in the Finnish league, after playing a few seasons in North America. Eric Bellerose (147th overall) came out the QMJHL. He never played in the NHL and did not have a long professional hockey career. Ryan Smith (171st overall) never made the NHL out the WHL. He played last year in Germany. Chris Burns (195th overall) stopped playing hockey after two years as a backup at Denver University. Alex Kholomeyev (219th overall) has bounced around in many obscure hockey leagues. He was last spotted with the Corpus-Christi Icerays of the WPHL. Victor Ignatjev (243rd overall) played 11 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 98/99, after spending some years in the IHL.

1993 Entry Draft

6th Viktor Kozlov
28th Shean Donovan
45th Vlastimil Kroupa
58th Ville Peltonen
80th Alexander Osadchy
106th Andrei Buschan
132nd Petri Varis
154th Fredrik Oduya
158th Anatoli Filatov
184th Todd Holt
210th Jonas Forsberg
236th Jeff Salajko
262nd Jamie Matthews

In my mind, 1993 was not the best of drafts. Viktor Kozlov has turned into an All-Star, Ville Peltonen has turned into a solid winger, Shean Donovan has established himself as a good checking winger, and the rest of the players are currently out of the NHL. The only player the Sharks drafted that has made an impact for the Sharks is Kozlov. If you think back, the Sharks traded Kozlov to Florida for a 1st round draft pick. After engineering trades with Tampa Bay and Nashville, the Sharks ended up with Brad Stuart, Jonathan Cheechoo, and Bryan Marchment, while losing Viktor Kozlov and Andrei Nazarov. Not too bad considering Brad Stuart is going to be a force in the NHL and a franchise player.

The pre-mentioned Viktor Kozlov (6th overall) has finally put it together (with consistency) with the Florida Panthers. He is coming off his best season (70 points), and is nearing his prime. Viktor is a big forward who will be a very good NHL forward. Viktor is extremely gifted, and he is finally showcasing his talents.

With the second pick, the Sharks drafted Shean Donovan (28th overall). Shean has developed into a good checking 3rd/4th ling winger. Unfortunately, his scoring touch from his OHL days did not pan out into the NHL. Lots of players drafted late first/early second round turn out to be busts. Meanwhile, the Sharks were able to package Shean and a 1st round draft pick (Alex Tanguay) in exchange for fan favorite Mike Ricci and a 2nd round draft pick (later traded, to Buffalo in the Steve Shields deal if my memory is correct).

The third productive player the Sharks drafted Ville Peltonen (58th overall). After being traded to the Nashville Predators, Ville has showed his NHL worth. With help to expansion, Ville will stick in the NHL. He’ll never be a big-time player, but Ville will contribute nicely.

Now, the rest of them. These guys (and there are a lot of them), just haven’t gotten things done. Vlastimil Kroupa (45th overall) played parts of a few season before being traded to the New Jersey. As far as I know, he is still a member of the New Jersey Devils organization. With New Jersey being solid at defense, Vlasti will need to look elsewhere for another shot at the NHL. Expansion might give him a few more NHL years. Alexander Osadchy (80th overall) has not been heard from since 95/96. Andrei Buschan (106th overall) put in two seasons with the Kansas City Blades (93/94 and 94/95). Petri Varis (132nd overall) was traded to the Blackhawks (with a late draft pick) for the since released Murray Craven. He has played in one NHL game with Chicago and had 46 points last year Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish League. You can never count a prospect out, but Petri’s chances of making an NHL impact are not good. You never know though. Fredrik Oduya (154th overall) was traded to the Calgary Flames to reacquire Eric Landry. He played with the St. John’s Flames last year. Not much is known about the current whereabouts of Anatoli Filatov (158th overall). I think he is still on the Sharks’ reserve list. He was last reported to be playing with Kamenogorsk in Russia. Todd Holt (184th overall) was last spotted with the Birmingham Bulls of the ECHL in 97/98. Jonas Forsberg (210th overall) is currently playing in the Swedish Elite League. He was a back-up goalie during 99/00. It is reported that he his development has not gone as well as expected. Jonas is a smallish goalie with a small chance to make it to the NHL. Jeff Salajko (236th overall) is a goalie who spent last year with the Manitoba Moose of the IHL. Jamie Matthews (262nd overall) was a re-entry selection. The Blackhawks originally drafted him in 1991 (44th overall). I don’t believe Jamie played professional hockey. He did rack up 369 points 301 games for the Sudbury Wolves over five OHL seasons.

Well that’s it for Part 1. I have typed up Part 2 (It will review 1994 and 1995), and it will be posted on www hockeysfuture.com in a few days. I split it up because this is a LONG review (about 11 pages in Microsoft Word). Please check back for that one very soon! If you would like Part 2 right now, drop me a line at ben_wu@branson.org! Any feedback is appreciated at ben_wu@branson.org. By the way, a special thanks to the Internet Hockey Database (www.hockeydb.com) for providing me with info and stats (among other things the site offers) of players like Petri Varis and other less notable players! Check out their site!