San Jose Sharks 2014 NHL Draft preview

By Craig Fischer

Mirco Mueller - Everett Silvertips

Photo: San Jose traded up to 18th overall at the 2013 NHL Draft to select Swiss defenseman Mirco Mueller, a smart do-it-all blueliner for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

For the first time in a long time, the San Jose Sharks will head into the draft as rebuilders. After a long reign as contenders and potential Stanley Cup hoisters, General Manager Doug Wilson will be closing the window on his perennial powerhouse team.

The Sharks will be committing to a younger and brighter future, and more importantly, after an embarrassing loss in the playoffs to the Los Angeles Kings where they gave up a 3-0 series lead, they will be looking for a culture change; one that breeds winning in all facets of play.

The 2014 NHL Draft is shaking up to be a big turning point for the Sharks organization, and could very well mark the end of an era if captain Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau are dealt to infuse new life into the complacent Sharks. While such moves would be tragic for a fan base accustomed to winning, a sensible deal could rapidly speed up the rebuild and have the Sharks begin another long reign; when one window closes, another one opens.

Top 10 prospects:

1. Tomas Hertl, C/W
2. Chris Tierney, C
3. Mirco Mueller, D
4. Freddie Hamilton, C
5. Matt Tennyson, D
6. Dan O’Regan, C/W
7. Konrad Abeltshauser, D
8. Dylan DeMelo, D
9. Sena Acolatse, D
10. Daniil Tarasov, RW

Team Needs

Before the rebuild talk, the Sharks were in dire need of a left-handed shot defenseman to fill into a top-four role. However, because it looks like the team’s aging core will be dismantled, the biggest team needs shift to character and youth. The team will look to build upon young players with a penchant for winning; who will do anything and everything to bring the Cup to San Jose.

With AHL “1A” goalie Harri Sateri bolting for the KHL, there is a glaring hole in Worcester. Troy Grosenick looks poised to take over the starting duties full-time, but the team is going to have to add a capable back-up that can push the young keeper, and J.P. Anderson probably is not the netminder to do so.

Organizational Strengths

The Sharks have a large number of hard-working two-way centermen climbing up the ranks of their prospect pool, led by Chris Tierney, Travis Oleksuk, and Freddie Hamilton. All three players could potentially compete for NHL jobs, especially if there are major shakeups, but to be fair, these players are very different and not as offensively gifted as the veterans rumored to be traded.

Built fast and agile along the blue line, the Sharks prospect defensive corps boasts a number of gifted puck moving defensemen with strong offensive potential. While Matt Tennyson might be the only NHL ready rearguard in the system, players like Mirco Mueller, Konrad Abeltshauser, and Michael Brodzinski could be fan favorites wearing the black and teal before long.

Organizational Weaknesses

Even with future superstar Tomas Hertl, the Sharks still lack a collective offensive prowess. Most of their forwards, while solid prospects severely lack in creativity and skill, especially at the higher professional levels. The team has been able to neglect this issue for a number of years due in large part to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau being integral parts of the offense, but if those players depart, there is going to be a huge organizational need to fill it.

The Sharks proved this post-season, that they lack a killer’s instinct during the big games, and that right there is the biggest weakness this organization has never been able to shake. After all, the Sharks are one of a handful of teams that have never even made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Sharks need big game players.

Draft Tendencies

Doug Wilson has traditionally gone all over the map on draft day. In his past seven drafts, his first selections were taken from seven different leagues ranging from the CHL, to the EJHL, to the Czech league. When the team likes a player, they will do all they can to get him, including moving forward, back, or even drafting off the board. If there is one draft tendency for the Sharks, it is that there are no tendencies.

Wilson is not afraid of wheeling and dealing on the draft floor, but if he does strike a deal, look for him to move up in the draft for a second consecutive year.

Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft Results:

20. Alex Tuch, C/RW, U.S. National Team Development Program

Tuch's NHL size, coachability, and under-appreciated skill game make him an easy pick at this spot in the draft. Not only is he a potential power forward, but his strong puck protection game and responsible two-way play make him a quintessential Doug Wilson pick. Even despite his tremendous toolkit, Tuch plays a very effective blue-collar game that seems to really complement his skilled wingers. Tuch is perhaps one of the most selfless players in the draft, and is constantly putting his big body on the line for big blocks, big goals, and big wins.