Sharks 2007 draft review

By Christopher Lee

The Sharks 2007 Entry Draft went off as a typical one for them compared to the last few years.  The organization traded to get two first-round picks and chose players which they coveted, while moving players who had become disposable to them. With their remaining late picks, the Sharks continued certain trends that have become prevalent over their drafting history, and building depth at key positions.

Early on draft day, the Sharks dealt backup goaltender Vesa Toskala and underachieving forward Mark Bell to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 13th and 44th picks in the weekend’s draft, as well as their fourth-round pick in 2009. Toskala and Bell had become expendable due to the development of a few of their prospects over the last season. 

During the early first round, the Sharks saw their opportunity and acted quickly, moving the two picks they received from Toronto to the St. Louis Blues for the ninth overall pick to select center Logan Couture out of the Ontario Hockey League. Later in the first round, the Sharks moved again to take defenseman Nick Petrecki out of the United States Hockey League, packaging their 42nd pick and San Jose’s second-round pick in the 2008 draft.

With their third-round pick, the Sharks selected German goaltender Timo Pielmeier, and then traded their fourth and fifth picks in 2007 as well as their sixth-round pick in 2008 to acquire Colorado’s 91st overall with which they chose another goaltender Tyson Sexsmith out of the Western Hockey League.

The Sharks completed their draft with two picks in the sixth-round, Swedish winger Patrick Zackrisson and Massacusetts high school forward Nick Bonino. They followed those two with a pair of seventh-round selections — college defenseman Justin Braun and WHL forward Frazer McLaren. All of these four players were eligible to be drafted in previous years, but had been passed on.

Logan Couture, C – Ottawa 67s

6′ 0, 191 lbs.
1st Round, 9th Overall

Logan Couture in many ways is the epitome of a Sharks first-round selection. The Sharks traded up to get this multi-talented forward for fear that he might not slip past the four teams before their 13th overall pick. Couture is a mature two-way center, with character, toughness and top-notch hockey sense, carrying no glaring weaknesses in his game. With GM Doug Wilson’s connection to the Ottawa 67s organization, it is certain that if anyone knew the true potential of this player, it would be him.

Couture’s 2006-07 started off with injuries and illness, and for much of the season, the team’s best player was just trying to play catch-up. However, Couture finished with a very strong performance of 26 goals and 52 assists in 54 games and continued his production in a very short playoff run.

Critics of Couture feel that a slow first step and perhaps a lack of top-end skill in his game make him unworthy of a high selection. Others feel that these criticisms are more due to his season of untimely injuries than for a real lack of talent. In this very shaky draft class, Couture stands as one player who is as safe a bet as any to become a good pro. A healthy 2007-08 campaign is a key to his continued development, and should be a good indicator of his pro potential. While there was a dearth of surefire star forwards in this draft, the Sharks were able to pick up a player with a realistic chance of being the best player in the draft.

Nick Petrecki, C – Omaha Lancers

6′ 3, 205 lbs.
1st Round, 28th Overall

Nick Petrecki was projected to go in the middle part of the first round by most publications and was rated among the top defenders in the draft. The Sharks eagerly moved up to take this powerful and aggressive defenseman who loves nothing more than to deliver a punishing check. In the mold of current Sharks blueliner Kyle McLaren, Petrecki combines this aptitude with athleticism and mobility to offer a package that could bloom into a shutdown defenseman at the NHL level. While Petrecki’s offensive game is less dynamic, he is an effective puck-mover and owns a very heavy shot from the point

The New York native recorded a respectable 11 goals and 14 assists in 54 games with Omaha in 2006-07 and was named a Western Division All-Star. After two good seasons in Omaha, Petrecki will attend Boston College in the fall of 2007, where he will hope to continue his development, and mature into a complete NHL prospect who is capable of being a top four defenseman for the Sharks in a few years.

Timo Pielmeier, G – Cologne EC Junior Sharks (Germany)

6′ 0, 172 lbs.
3rd Round, 83rd Overall

The Sharks added yet another German goaltender to further improve their depth in net, grabbing this 17-year-old who has tons of potential. The Sharks have excelled at picking up pro-caliber goaltenders from this emerging hockey nation and saw no reason to stop now. Pielmeier stepped up his game during this winter’s World Junior Championship tournament, grabbing the spotlight from fellow draftee Sebastian Stefaniszin and never looking back. He led his team to the German junior league title and then continued to shine at the Under-18 World Championships in April.

This aggressive goaltender possesses fantastic positioning, good athleticism and is a good puck-handler. He was selected by the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL in the recent import draft and could likely come to North America next season, since he is in line to be a backup goaltender if he plays in the top German men’s league.

Tyson Sexsmith, G – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

5′ 11, 204 lbs.
3rd Round, 91st Overall

Just six picks after selecting Pielmeier, the Sharks traded up to grab another goaltender that they were high on in Tyson Sexsmith. Sexsmith did what few undrafted goaltenders have done in the history of the Canadian Hockey League — lead his team to a Memorial Cup championship. After stealing the Vancouver Giants starting job from veteran netminder Dustin Slade early in the 2006-07 campaign, the 17-year-old earned 31 wins in 51 regular season appearances and led the Western Hockey League with 1.79 goals against average in both the regular season and playoffs.

Many have doubts in his abilities due to his team’s dominance and commitment to defense in front of him, but the accomplishment speaks for itself. His strengths are in his quickness and lateral movement, and his mental fortitude, while not being a real athletic specimen. Sexsmith will have a chance to prove himself to doubters as the Giants get ready to defend their championship with some key veterans leaving.

Patrick Zackrisson, C/W – Rogle (Swe-1)

5′ 11, 187 lbs.
6th Round, 165th Overall

At the 165th pick, the Sharks chose to go off the board, selecting 20-year-old Swedish forward Patrick Zackrisson. His two mature two-way play and hockey sense, along with some decent offensive skills are standard in most later round Sharks picks, and this one is no different. He represented Sweden at the World Junior Championships this past winter, and had a successful season of 16 goals and 18 assists in 29 games for Rogle of the Swedish first division.

The late bloomer has signed on to move Linkoping of the Swedish Elite League for the upcoming season.

Nick Bonino, C – Avon Old Farms (USHSE)

6′ 1, 204 lbs.
6th Round, 173rd Overall

Nick Bonino was the Sharks second selection of the sixth round and, like Zackrisson had been passed on in the previous draft. Bonino was nearly taken by San Jose last season with their final pick, but now has the opportunity to join their prospect ranks a year later.

The Connecticut high-schooler had another strong year as a big center dominating the smaller competition with 23 goals and 43 assists in 26 games while attending Avon Old Farms, but there are concerns that he does not have the skating ability to compete at higher levels. He will attend Boston University in the fall, and the hope is that he will be forced to improve his speed enough to make him worthy of a professional contract. The Sharks are very high on him and were happy to be able to get him so late in the draft.

Justin Braun, D – UMass-Amherst (NCAA)

6′ 1, 180 lbs.
7th Round, 201st Overall

Twenty-year-old defenseman Justin Braun was another unlikely pick, coming off his first season at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The average-sized rearguard was named to Hockey East’s All-Rookie team after recording four goals and goals assists in 38 games as a freshman.

The Sharks will likely let the Minnesota native develop for his full four years at UMass before deciding whether he is worthy of a professional contract. He is a well-rounded defenseman who contributes at both ends of the ice.

Frazer McLaren, LW – Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)

6′ 5, 230 lbs.
7th Round, 203rd Overall

Huge Frazer McLaren was the Sharks final choice in the draft. Although, he had been primarily used as a checker in previous years, he scored 19 goals and 12 assists in his 61 games with Portland. He has been known to fight, but that was not his specific role. He also spent some time on the power play, assigned to stand in front of the goaltender.

The Sharks hope his game can translate to the NHL level as a fourth-line player who can skate, forecheck and drop the gloves when needed, and perhaps even bang in the odd goal. The 20-year-old will likely join the Sharks farm system immediately.

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.