San Jose Sharks gamble paid off at the 2007 Draft

By David Thicke
Photo: Forward Logan Couture is one of the top players from the 2007 NHL Draft. The second-year player has managed back-to-back 30 goal seasons. (Photo courtesy of Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI)

The 2007 NHL Entry Draft started with the Sharks organization trading to get two first-round picks in order to select their targeted players, while moving players who had become disposable to them. The morning of the draft, the Sharks quickly dealt backup goaltender Vesa Toskala and forward Mark Bell to the Maple Leafs for the 13th and 44th picks in the 2007 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.

Later in the first round, the Sharks saw another opportunity move up in the draft so they sent the two picks received from Toronto to the St. Louis Blues for the ninth overall pick to select center Logan Couture. Near the end of the first round, San Jose rolled the dice again to take defenseman Nick Petrecki by packaging their 42nd pick and team's second-round pick in the 2008 draft to the Washington Capitals.

With their remaining late picks, the Sharks continued a certain trend that has become prevalent over their drafting history, and building depth at key positions. The 2007 draft was a well calculated and thought out gambler which will continue to pay the organization good returns.

Logan Couture, C, Ottawa 67s (OHL) – 1st Round, 9th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 184

The Sharks had their minds set on getting Logan Couture before any of the other teams in front of them had the chance pick him, so General Manager, Doug Wilson pulled the trigger on another deal to move up in the draft. The multi-talented two-way centerman was the prototypical Sharks' first round selection; he had character, toughness, top notched hockey sense and carrying no big weakness to his game.

Couture would play two more years at the junior level for OHL Ottawa 67's. He struggled with injuries in the first year after being drafted but would explode in 2008-09 season which was his final year at the junior level. The talented centerman started to show his scoring touch with 39 goals, 48 assists and a plus-27 rating in 62 games. The 67's were eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs so Couture was sent to the AHL Worchester Sharks but only managed three points, all in his 12 AHL playoff games.

In the 2009-10 season, Couture started his first professional season with the Worchester Sharks of the AHL but after 42 games with 20 goals along with 33 assists, the Sharks recalled the talented centerman to the NHL for the remained of the year. Couture never returned to the AHL and would be nominated for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2010-11 season after scoring 32 goals. He has established himself as the Sharks number two centerman behind Joe Thornton and it looks like San Jose made all the right moves to get their man.

Nick Petrecki, D, Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 1st Round, 28th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Sharks moved up again to get a player who was rated among the top defenders in the 2007 NHL Entry draft, Nick Petrecki, a powerful and aggressive defenseman that can deliver punishing bodychecks. He combines athleticism, mobility, and puck moving skills with a heavy shot but was selected more as a shutdown defenseman rather than his offensive abilities.

After being draft, Petrecki spend two years at Boston College where the rugged defenseman worked on his overall game but mostly accumulated large amounts of penalty minutes. The physical blueliner decided to leave college early to start his professional career in the AHL at the start of the 2009-10 season.

Petrecki has spent the last three seasons in the AHL as a physical defensive defenseman but doesn't produce a lot of points and has struggled at times to stay in Worchester's lineup. The 2011-12 season saw Petrecki play a more regular role while dropping the gloves only if necessary and starting to develop better defensive zone play. He will need to more consistency in his play next season to show the Shark's organization that their gamble to move up to select him early in the 2007 NHL draft was worth it.

Timo Pielmeier, G, Koln JR (German-JR) – 3rd Round, 83rd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 1

The Sharks decided use their third pick of the draft to add more depth in the net. They choose to back Germany where the team has had success with their selections from that country by choosing the 17-year-old Timo Pielmeier. The organization's scouting felt that the netminder had tons of potential, possessed fantastic positioning, good athleticism and a good puck-handler.

In the fall of 2007, Pielmeier decided to come over to play in North America for the St John's Fog Devils where he was the starting goalie and had a solid first season. The next season, he was traded to Shawinigan and improved on his numbers while playing deep into the QJMHL finals. At the 2009 NHL trade deadline, the Sharks sent Timo Pielmeier, Nick Bonino and a conditional draft selection in 2009 to the Anaheim Ducks for Travis Moen and Kent Huskins.

The 2009-2010 season was the start of Pielmeier's professional career; he was the starter for the Bakerfield Condors and was re-assigned to the AHL on several occasions but only as a backup goaltender. The young goalie received his chance to play in the AHL for the Syracuse Crunch in the 2010-11 season but also played a couple of games in the ECHL and actually played his one NHL game with the Ducks. On December 12, 2011, the Ducks trade Timo Pielmeier and Kurtis Foster to the New Jersey Devils for Rod Pelley, Mark Fraser and a seventh-round draft pick in 2012. It looks like Pielmeier is one of several players who could inherit an NHL job from Johan Hedberg or Martin Brodeur. .

Tyson Sexsmith, G, Vancouver Giants (WHL) – 3rd Round, 91st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Shark decided to select another goalie that was on their radar and available, Tyson Sexsmith who had impressed as a 17-year-old goalie when he took the Vancouver Giants all the way to a Memorial Cup championship. He used his quick lateral movement and mental fortitude to have 1.79 goals against average in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Sexsmith continued to maintain his outstanding goaltending for the next two years at the junior level and he seemed raise the level of his game during the WHL playoffs. The young netminder just hated to lose but never blamed his teammates and wouldn't give up on the puck after making the first save. He had played himself into an NHL entry-level contract.

The first two years as a professional were difficult for Sexsmith as he was primarily a backup goalie being shuttle between the AHL and the ECHL trying to adjust to the leagues. In the 2011-12 season, the goaltender finally received a chance to play more in the AHL as his junior level form started to return which showed in his solid numbers for a poor Worchester team. Sexsmith will need to battle hard against the other goalies prospects for the starting job in the AHL and prove that the Sharks management weren't wrong in his 2007 draft selection.

Patrik Zackrisson, F, Rogle (Sweden-2) – 6th Round, 165th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Sharks decided to go way off the board with the pick of Patrik Zackrisson, who was a twenty-year-old Swedish centerman who plays a good two-way game, has solid hockey sense, and some offensive upside to his game. This was a typical late round pick by the organization and the forward was already signed to a two-year contract with Linköping of SEL.

Zackrisson decided to sign a three-year extension with Linköping in January of 2008 after solid season where the late round pick had really improved on his point totals in the SEL. The Sharks were unable to convince the Swede to come play in North America and lost his NHL rights when they failed to sign him to a contract. He's now playing in the KHL for Atlant Mytishchi after signing a two-year deal in May of 2011. It is always a high risk gamble with any late round NHL draft picks but some do payoff.

Nick Bonino, C, Avon Old Farms (CT High School) – 6th Round, 173rd overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 85

The Sharks decided to choose Nick Bonino after they had passed on him in the previous year's draft. The high scoring centerman was still available this time around and the Sharks selected him to join the teams' prospects ranks. There were concerns over his skating ability but he would be attend Boston University in the fall of 2007, so the organization felt there was time to improve and develop into an NHL caliber player.

Bonino had two years of improved offensive numbers while being named the Top rookie goal scorer in the Hockey East and leading the Terriers to a National Championship in the next season. At the 2009 NHL trade deadline, the Sharks sent Nick Bonino, Timo Pielmeier and a conditional draft selection in 2009 to the Anaheim Ducks for Travis Moen and Kent Huskins. After his junior season, the Ducks signed the talented playmaking centerman to a two year NHL entry-level contract and he finished the year in the NHL. Bonino needs to remain healthy for a full season to show the Sharks organization maybe they shouldn't have traded the late rounder after all.

Justin Braun, D, U-Mass Amherst (Hockey East) – 7th Round, 201st overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 94

The Shark decided to draft another overager, Justin Braun who had just finished his freshman season at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The average-sized defenseman had been named to the Hockey East all-rookie team after scoring four goals along with ten assists in 38 NCAA games. The Sharks believed the 20-year-old could improve and develop his overall game at the university level over the next three years, giving them time to decide whether to offer a professional contract.

Braun played a well-rounded game over the next three years at U-Mass Amherst where the defenseman improved his offensive numbers each season and develop his physical, puck moving defensive style. At the end of his stellar senior season, the Sharks decided to give the solid defenseman an audition at the professional level in the AHL with Worchester Shark. In his three game tryout, the blueliner contributed three assists and was a plus-seven rating for Worchester. He was subsequently signed to a two-year NHL entry level contract.

In the 2010-11 season, Braun would play very well at the AHL level and was called-up on several occasions to the NHL where the solid defenseman made a good impression on the Sharks' management. The late round draft pick would play the whole 2011-12 season in the NHL where he scored two goals along with nine assists and a minus-two rating in 66 NHL games. The rookie defender would see action in all five games of the NHL playoffs series loss against the St. Louis Blues. Braun has shown the Sharks organization that he can be a fifth or sixth defenseman at the NHL level.

Frazer McLaren, LW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL) – 7th Round, 203rd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 39

The Sharks final pick of the draft was huge Frazer McLaren who had scored 19 goals and provided a net-front presence for the Portland Winterhawks powerplay. In 2007-08 season, McLaren played for three different teams starting with Portland before being traded to Moose Jaw for his final 48 games in the WHL. The big winger put 33 points for the Warriors and seven points in 18 games for the Winterhawks while accumulating 164 penalty minutes for the year. He was given a four game tryout with the AHL Worchester Sharks to end his season.

McLaren played his whole rookie professional season in the AHL where the physical winger scored seven goals with an assist while taking 181 penalty minutes (21 fighting majors) in 75 games. For the last three season, the fourth line forward has split his time between the NHL and the AHL Sharks. After hip surgery in the off-season, McLaren wasn't able to get into many games and ended the 2011-12 season having played only 27 games. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.