Photo: San Jose Sharks prospect Sean Kuraly turned in a strong showing at the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The USHL is considered by most to be the top junior development league in the United States. In recent years, the league has been producing what seems to be an ever growing crop of NHL draftees, some of whom have flown somewhat under the radar even after being drafted.
Photo: Selected 17th overall by San Jose, Tomas Hertl was the highest drafted Czech player in the 2012 NHL Draft. (Ken McKenna/HF)
Compared to past years, the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was very quiet for the San Jose Sharks and GM Doug Wilson. The team did nothing in terms of draft day trades, which is unusual, but the organization was still able to select their target player, Tomas Hertl from the Czech League. The Sharks looked at moving up if Hertl might not be available at the 17th overall spot and had decided they would trade down if he was taken early.
Photo: Selected in the second round of the 2011 Draft, Matt Nieto is one of the few Sharks prospects with high offensive potential. (Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI)
After a late playoff run to the Western Conference finals in 2011, the 2011-12 NHL season has to be considered a failure for the San Jose Sharks organization. Headed into the 2011-12 season with Stanley Cup aspirations, team fell to the middle of the pack and struggled to make the playoffs.
Photo: Forward Tommy Wingels had something of a breakout season in 2011-12, splitting time evenly between the AHL and NHL. Wingels even managed to appear in five NHL playoff games. (Tony Medina/Icon SMI)
The San Jose Sharks have seen some of their prospects demonstrate solid development over the 2011-12 season while others have been seemingly stuck in neutral. Benn Ferriero and Justin Braun have graduated since the last Top 20 list while others such as Taylor Doherty, Harri Sateri, Nick Petrecki, and Brandon Mashinter have seen their stock decline over the season. The organization signed several quality free agents this spring including Travis Oleksuk, Matt Tennyson, and Sebastien Stalberg.
Photo: Defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser had a strong post-season with the Halifax Mooseheads, managing five goals and 11 assists in 15 games. (Dave Connell/HF)
The San Jose Sharks prospect pool saw a varied amount of post-season experience in 2011-12, with players representing the organization at almost every level of junior hockey.