The San Jose Sharks have seven prospects playing in junior hockey. Two of the franchise’s top ten prospects, center Logan Couture and left wing Jamie McGinn, are now playing their third season together with the Ottawa 67’s. But with East Division rivals Oshawa on the schedule six times this year, the pair will also get a decent look at a fellow Sharks draft pick, Oshawa Generals defenseman James DeLory.
Out west, 2006 first-round pick Ty Wishart’s Prince George Cougars could face Vancouver Giants goaltender Tyson Sexsmith as many as eight times in 2007-08, since both Sharks up-and-comers are playing on teams in the WHL’s B.C. Division.
Logan Couture, C – Ottawa 67’s
Acquired 1st round, 9th overall, 2007
Hyped months before last year’s draft as the top-ranked skater by ISS, Couture’s sophomore effort with the 67’s in 2006-07 started off well as far as the score sheet was concerned. But after five assists in his first five games, the center was sidelined with mononucleosis. Along with two leg injuries, the London, ON, native was limited to 54 games last year, though he still recorded 78 points and went on to lead the 67’s in scoring during a short playoff run (one goal and eight assists in five postseason contests).
Such postseason success did not fade for Couture after Ottawa’s early elimination, however, as the Sharks’ most promising young talent outside the pros tallied another goal and eight more assists in his first five games of 2007-08. Heading into December, Couture has kicked off year three of his junior career in the scoring lead for Ottawa with 32 points. Prized for his strong two-way play, the 6’, 191 lb. center sits within the top 30 in league-wide scoring with 10 goals and 22 assists in 24 games.
Couture has recorded a point for the 67’s in all but seven games this season. He also has 12 multiple-point games. Barring injury, he should surpass the 250-point career mark with Ottawa sometime this season, having entered the year with 192. After being selected 12th overall in the 2005 OHL draft, Couture led all Ottawa rookies in goals, assists and points, his 64 total points good enough for third best league-wide among first-year players.
Jamie McGinn, LW – Ottawa 67’s
Acquired 2nd round, 36th overall, 2006
The captain of the 67’s skates on a line with Couture and has 25 points to his name this year (11 goals and 14 assists), not to mention a plus-10 rating in 23 games. The fourth-year Ottawa forward potted 46 goals last season. McGinn, now 19, boasts an up-tempo game and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. At 6’, 200 lbs., the rise in this winger’s offensive production is evident – he earned 22 points as a rookie 2004-05, following with 57 in 2005-06 and 89 last spring. He has also been a steady point contributor in the playoffs for Ottawa, and is currently second in team scoring behind only Couture. McGinn was named fastest skater at the 2006-07 Prospect Skills competition, won a gold medal with Team Canada at a recent Under-18 tournament, and also has two short-handed tallies and three game-winning goals thus far in 2007-08.
James DeLory, D – Oshawa Generals
Acquired 4th round, 98th overall, 2006
James Delory, 6’5, 225 lb., begins just his fourth season of backline duty in 2007-08. DeLory already has a goal and four assists in 19 games this season, his fourth with Oshawa. The 19-year-old made an impressive transition from forward to the position two seasons ago with the Generals, earning six goals and 26 assists in 2005-06. He also led the team in games played with 67 and added 136 penalty minutes. Not only one of the highest scoring teams in the QMJHL this year, Oshawa has also allowed the sixth fewest goals against in the league entering December, thanks in part to DeLory.
Ty Wishart, D – Prince George Cougars
Acquired 16th overall (2006)
The Sharks traded up to get Wishart in the first round of the 2006 draft. At 6’5 and 210 lbs., the Cougars have been relying on the 19-year-old Belleville, ON, native for his presence and skill in the defensive zone. With 118 goals against in just 29 games this year, the most in the WHL, Prince George has been off to a mediocre start. But Wishart is averaging a point a game and is poised to shatter last season’s career numbers of 11 goals and 38 assists. After two full months of play in 2007-08, the fourth-year Cougar boasts 8 goals and 21 assists. Eight two-point games, a 10-game scoring streak in mid October and six power-play goals highlight Wishart’s campaign thus far. If last season was a breakout one for Wishart, he looks to be solidifying his place as a top prospect for San Jose this year.
Tyson Sexsmith, G – Vancouver Giants
Acquired 3rd round, 91st overall (2007)
The second goalie selected by the Sharks during the late stages of the third round in 2007, Memorial Cup winning backstop Sexsmith is at it again with the Vancouver Giants this season porting a 2.07 goals-against average, good enough for fourth-best in the WHL. In just his second full season as a starting goalie with the Giants, Sexsmith has the most wins of any goaltender with a record of 18-5-1-3. He also leads the league in shutouts with four, boasting a .903 save percentage and just 55 goals against in 27 games. Last year’s WHL championship effort saw Sexsmith go 31-12-2-6 with a league low 1.79 GAA. He also finished second in shutouts with 10 before carrying the Giants in the postseason with a 14-3-4 record in the WHL playoffs, adding four more shutouts and just 40 goals against in 22 games. Sexsmith is a 6’, 204 lb. Calgary native. Ranked eighth by Central Scouting before the draft, the Sharks traded their fouth and fifth-round picks and a 2008 sixth-round pick for the right to draft him eight spots after choosing QMJHL rookie Pielmeier.
Frazer McLaren, LW – Moose Jaw Warriors
Acquired 7th round, 203rd overall, 2007
McLaren will likely play in his 300th WHL game this winter and already broke the 600 career penalty minute plateau earlier this season, his first with Moose Jaw. Now in his sixth season of junior hockey, the 6’5 230 lb. McLaren played the first 18 games of the year with Portland before being acquired by the Warriors in early November. The 19-year-old has logged 21 PIM in his first eight games with the new club. Before the swap, McLaren was utilized for his size in front of the net on the power play and as a checking forward. Headed into December, he now has four goals and three assists to his credit, along with 66 penalty minutes in 26 games. The Winnipeg native is coming of a banner scoring year in 2006-07 (19 goals and 12 assists last season with Portland in 61 games).
Timo Pielmeier, G – St. John’s Fog Devils
Acquired 3rd round, 83rd overall (2007)
In Pielmeier, the Sharks organization would certainly enjoy seeing their long line of successful European goalie prospects carry on unimpeded into the future. Targeting the 18-year-old German late in the third round of the amateur draft this past summer, San Jose will hope to cultivate Pielmeier’s talent, which had him ranked in the top ten among European goaltenders before the draft. Named QMJHL defensive player of the week in late October, Pielmeier is among the leader in games played for rookie goalies. In 25 starts he is 10-15 with the expansion St. John’s Fog Devils, with a 3.38 GAA and .901 save percentage. Before entering the QMJHL this fall, the Deggendorf, Germany native won a league championship playing for the Cologne EC Junior Sharks. As a 17-year-old, Pielmeier went 24-11 in the regular season and 6-0 in the playoffs, and was tops in minutes played and GAA (2.17). He also started six games for Germany in U-18 WJC. Pielmeier became the seventh goalie drafted by San Jose since 2004.