Entering the 2008 NHL Draft, the Sharks had seven selections but none before the fourth round. However, GM Doug Wilson was looking to move up. Wilson described his philosophy heading into the draft: “You just take a look at every opportunity that comes. I’m looking to maybe get some picks before our fourth round, whether it’s first, second, or third we’ll see.” As things evolved over the course of the weekend, Wilson traded to get the first selection in both the third and fourth round. When asked about potential trades involving roster players, Wilson was non-committal. “I think it’s a good thing when people want your players. Those calls are coming to me and I will listen,” he said.
The Sharks through their deals still wound up with seven selections and followed their traditional formula for success. They drafted a Finnish goaltender, an Ottawa 67’s product, and several players in the late stages of the draft who are two to three years away from competing for an NHL job.
Justin Daniels, C – Connecticut Kent School
62nd Overall 3rd Round
6’1 156 lbs
June 7, 1989 Queens, New York
The Sharks made Justin Daniels their first selection of the 2008 draft. Justin along with his twin brother Drew, who the Sharks selected in the seventh round, were among the highest-rated prep school players by the Central Scouting Service. Justin was only ranked 100th among North American skaters and based on his numbers may have been a bit of a stretch in the third round. But the production is there. In 25 games at Kent High School, Daniels notched 47 points. He will have time to grow into his game as he will play for Sioux City of the USHL next season before enrolling at Northeastern in the fall of 2009. Although Daniels has a lot of maturing and developing to do, his physical nature and tremendous shot are his best assets.
Samuel Groulx, D – QMJHL Quebec
92nd Overall 4th Round
6’2 165 lbs
June 28, 1990 Gatineau, Quebec
This young defenseman is one of the up and coming players in the QMJHL. Last season he was named to the league’s All Rookie Team. His father, Denis, actually attended a Pittsburgh Penguins training camp and started his son in hockey at the age of four. Groulx, was a late riser, jumping from a mid-term ranking of 161 to 76th among North American skaters. He lists Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic as his favorite NHL player. Groulx is a great two-way defenseman that the Quebec Remparts used on both the power play and penalty kill. In 70 games last season, Groulx had 25 points and was a +5. Perhaps most importantly, he fulfills an organizational need on the blue line.
Harri Sateri, G – Fin-Jr, Tappara
116th Overall 4th Round
6’1 190 lbs
December 29, 1989 Toijala, Finland
The Sharks selected yet another Finnish goaltender in this year’s draft. After successfully developing Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala into bona fide No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL, the Sharks have continued to look towards Europe for goaltending. Sateri was the No. 2 ranked European goaltender heading into this draft, with his draft stock rising exponentially at the last World Junior Championships. Originally slated as the backup for team Finland, Sateri worked his way into a tandem role and was the starter for their pivotal quarterfinal match against Team Canada. Sateri was outstanding in that game, making 29 saves on 32 shots, in a losing effort. Nevertheless his role in Finland’s sixth-place finish didn’t go unnoticed; Director of Scouting Tim Burke had his eye on Sateri since that tournament and jumped at the chance to add him to the Sharks’ deep stable of goaltenders.
Julien Demers, D – OHL Ottawa
146th Overall 5th Round
6’0 218 lbs
September 25, 1989 Ottawa, ON
Over the past couple of seasons, Wilson has frequently drafted from the OHL club he played for — the Ottawa 67’s. This year was no different, as the Sharks continued to replenish their blue line with the selection of Julien Demers. Demers is a big physical defenseman, pre-requisites in the Western Conference these days. Demers represented the 67’s in the 2008 OHL All-Star Classic. He also finished fifth overall in defensive scoring with 33 points in 65 games. With a couple more seasons on what is an up and coming 67’s club, Demers should draw more attention to himself and perhaps earn a spot on Canada’s World Junior team in 2010.
Tommy Wingels, C – CCHA Miami U.
177th Overall 6th Round
6’0 184 lbs
April 12, 1988 Evanston, Illinois
Wingels, a business major at Miami University (Ohio), has made quite a name for himself the last couple of seasons. He played for Cedar Rapids of the USHL in 2006-07, collecting 10 goals and 18 assists and was named the MVP of the East Division team at the 2007 USHL Prospects/All-Star Game. This fall he enrolled at Miami and was part of a very successful RedHawks campaign. He was one of only ten players to see action in all 42 games and registered an impressive 29 points and a +10 rating. Wingels’ season was ended by fellow Sharks prospect Nick Petrecki and the Boston College Eagles in the 2008 NCAA Northeast Regional Final.
Jason Demers, D – QMJHL Victoriaville
186th Overall 7th Round
6’1 185 lbs
June 9, 1988 Dorval, Quebec
With the Sharks first selection in the seventh round, they selected the QMJHL’s leading defensive scorer. Demers (no relation to the Sharks 5th round pick Julien Demers) had 64 points, nine goals and 55 assists in 67 games. He more than doubled his offensive output over the 2006-07 season. Demers participated with the Sharks rookie tournament squad prior to the 2007-08 season and the club was so impressed they almost signed him as a free agent. Now 20 years old, his size and skill set could be a steal in the seventh round.
Drew Daniels, RW – Connecticut Kent School
194th Overall 7th Round
6’1 158 lbs
June 7, 1989 Queens, New York
The Sharks rounded out their 2008 draft class with the selection of Drew Daniels, the twin brother of their third round selection Justin Daniels. Much like his brother, Drew had an outstanding year at Kent School in Connecticut, registering 12 goals and 35 assists in 47 games. The two brothers seem like they will continue to progress together over the next couple of years. They will both play for Sioux City in the USHL before attending Northeastern and then trying to find a spot in the San Jose organization. With the close proximity of the Sharks’ AHL club in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Sharks will have no problem keeping tabs on their twin prospects as they compete in Hockey East.
Two Sharks prospects have been invited to attend Canada’s National Junior Team development camp July 25-29 in Ottawa, ON. Tyson Sexsmith (2007 3rd Round, 94th) and Logan Couture (2007 1st Round, 9th) will join Canada’s top junior-aged players at the camp which is the first step in the selection process that Hockey Canada follows to name the junior team roster in December.