In some respects, the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was a departure for the San Jose Sharks, and in others, it was more of the same. For the fifth consecutive year, the Sharks drafted a forward with its first pick. For the third straight season the Sharks traded up in the first round to get a forward it coveted. Unlike three of the past four drafts, however, that forward was not from Europe. In fact, none of the Sharks eight picks were European.
The Sharks continued to go off the board with nearly all of their draft picks, but unlike previous seasons the Sharks did not stock up on players from the New England — be it preps, high schoolers or collegiates. The Sharks took only one player hailing from New England, a collegiate at Amherst, but his father was a San Jose original.
San Jose was one of the most fortunate teams in the NHL Entry Draft lottery, winning the No. 12 overall pick in the wide-open lottery. They would not remain at that position, however.
Devin Setoguchi, RW
6’0 180 lbs. Shoots: Right
Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
1st Round, 8th Overall
As was the case in 2001 with Marcel Goc, in 2002 with Mike Morris, 2003 with Milan Michalek and 2004 with Lukas Kaspar, the Sharks took a forward with their first pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Unlike 2001, 2003, and 2004, however, that forward was not a European. Saskatoon Blades right Devin Setoguchi, a native of Taber, Alberta, marked the first time since 1998 that the Sharks had drafted a player out of major juniors with their first selection in the draft. That player was Regina Pats defenseman Brad Stuart, taken with the third overall pick.
The last forward out of major juniors taken by the Sharks was Patrick Marleau in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft with the second overall pick. Like Setoguchi, Marleau came out of the WHL, namely the Seattle Thunderbirds. Jeff Friesen was drafted from the WHL’s Regina Pats with the 11th pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, and San Jose’s first pick ever, Pat Falloon, taken with the second overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, also came out of the WHL, having led the Spokane Chiefs to the Memorial Cup. Falloon, Friesen and Marleau all went on to crack San Jose the fall after their selection by the Sharks. Setoguchi is not expected to do that, but he does have a solid resume.
Setoguchi scored 33 goals in 69 games for the Blades in regular season action, good for ninth in the WHL. With 31 assists, Setoguchi finished 22nd in WHL scoring with 64 points, fourth in Saskatoon team scoring. Setoguchi’s offensive prowess earned him a spot in the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game in Vancouver, where he proceeded to win the hardest shot competition with a shot clocked at 96 pmh. The 18-year-old did not score goals only because he possesses a cannon of a shot, Setoguchi is also known for his agility, balance and decent speed which helps him hold onto the puck in one-on-one situations. The 6’0 185-pound winger is also known for his scrappiness. It is common for Setoguchi to lay out hard hits and finish his checks. Setoguchi is also known as a two-way player, which is normally a pre-requisite for San Jose forwards, with left wing a 1997 first-round pick Marco Sturm serving as the prototype. However, Setoguchi’s hands are his bread and butter, displayed in his strong performance for Team Canada at the 2005 U-18 World Championships, where he led Team Canada in scoring with four goals and two assists in six games, ninth in tournament scoring.
As is common for San Jose, the Sharks went against the conventional wisdom that Setoguchi was a mid first round pick. International Scouting Service ranked Setoguchi 18th overall, while Central Scouting Bureau ranked Setoguchi 10th among all North American players. Hockey’s Future had Setoguchi ranked fourth among all draft eligible WHL prospects. Despite these and other lists, the Sharks traded their 12th overall pick along with the 49th and 207th picks in the 2005 Draft to the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth overall pick, and San Jose proceeded to take Setoguchi, who would have been available at 12th if conventional wisdom was indeed correct. But San Jose had identified their man and, as was true in previous seasons, the Sharks moved to ensure they got him.
In the 2002 draft, San Jose traded up to select defenseman Dan Spang in the second round, forward Jonas Fiedler in the third round, and defenseman Tim Conboy in the seventh round. In the 2003 draft, San Jose traded up to draft right wing Steve Bernier in the first round and forward Josh Hennessy and defenseman Matt Carle in the second round. San Jose traded up to select Lukas Kaspar in the first round of the 2004 draft. In recent seasons, San Jose’s trades to acquire higher picks in the first two rounds have paid dividends with strong prospects, especially the 2003 Draft.
Analysis: San Jose needs goal-scoring in its system, from the top down. The Sharks nearly had six 20-goal scorers in 2003-04, with Alexander Korolyuk scoring 19 goals in 63 games. However, none of these players can be counted on for 30+ goals, and some may have overachieved. San Jose often finds itself unable to score that big goal when the team needs it, such as in the 2004 Western Conference Finals, when Miikka Kiprusoff, Jerome Iginla and the Calgary Flames beat the Sharks despite their own limited offense. The Sharks has a number of prospect forwards with offensive potential: Milan Michalek, Marcel Goc, Steve Bernier, Josh Hennessy, Lukas Kaspar and even Mike Morris. But none of these players are blue chip future stars. Neither is Setoguchi, but San Jose has strength in numbers and hopes to have a prospect who can snipe that big goal for the Sharks in the future. At the least, San Jose should at least maintain a roster full of players able to score near or over 20 goals per season.
Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, D
6’1 190 lbs. Shoots: Left
Quebec Remparts (QMHL)
2nd Round, 35th Overall
While Setoguchi may have been slightly off the board, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic’s selection in the second round of the 2005 Draft has all the characteristics of what is fast becoming typical Shark drafting. Vlasic entered the draft ranked 70th among all North American skaters by CSS and was ranked 17th among all Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) players in Hockey’s Future’s QMJHL draft preview. Projected to be a third or fourth round pick, San Jose used the 35th pick acquired from the Calgary Flames in exchange for ace goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to select the 18-year-old blueliner. The Sharks may have gone off the board with Vlasic’s selection so early, but the team has a history of such selections paying off.
Only two drafts ago San Jose traded up to select a defenseman Matt Carle, who has since won two NCAA National Championships with Denver University and was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team in 2004 and an NCAA West First-Team All-American this past season. Carle has become one of the best defensemen in college hockey after only two seasons, Vlasic too could pay dividends.
Hockey’s Future’s QMJHL Draft Preview said of Vlasic, “Whoever selects him will get a nice project that could potentially become a steal if he matures the right way in the next two years.”
Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Burke said of Vlasic in a team press release that Shark scouts, “kept saying this kid is playing against every top line in the league and he was shutting them down. [He’s] not flashy, but this kid knows how to play against good players.”
Vlasic is known not only for his awareness and positional play, but also for his skating, outlet passing, and shot from the point. Given his skill set, all Vlasic needs to do is continue to hone his game and gain some muscle and he should challenge for a spot in San Jose one day. The 18-year-old’s performance in 2004-05 leaves reason for optimism. Vlasic’s 5 goals and 25 assists in 70 games for the Remparts led the team in defenseman scoring. Vlasic’s +39 rating led the Remparts in plus/minus and was fifth in the QMJHL, and tops amongst all players not playing for Sidney Crosby’s Rimouski Oceanic. The Montreal native kept it up his solid performance in the playoffs scoring 2 goals and 7 assists in 13 games. At 6’1 190 pounds Vlasic is no giant, but he is willing to hit, playing out 130 hits in the regular season and 44 in the playoffs.
In San Jose’s 15-year history, the Sharks have never drafted a defenseman out of the QMJHL until Vlasic’s selection. Although the Sharks have not invested a draft pick on a QMJHL defenseman before, Vlasic is a teammate of Shark prospect center Josh Hennessy, who was drafted with the 43rd overall pick in 2003, so the Sharks have had numerous opportunities to get a good read on Vlasic while monitoring Hennessy’s progress. Hennessy, also drafted out of the Remparts organization, progressed sufficiently to earn a contract with the Sharks for the 2005-06 season. Should Vlasic progress similarly, he should follow his suit and sign with the Sharks in two years.
The success of San Jose’s recent early round draft picks suggests that Vlasic should follow suit, as the Sharks haven’t bombed on an early round draft pick since Tero Määttä in the 2000 Draft. Although it does not appear Määttä will pan out for San Jose, the Finn has gone on to become a stalwart defensive defenseman for the Espoo Blues of the Sm-Liiga under former NHL head coach Ted Sator.
Analysis: The selection of Vlasic has all the feel of the selection of Matt Carle in the 2003 Draft. Vlasic has all of the qualities San Jose likes in its defensemen: a good skater, strong defensively, performs against top-line players, an offensive upside, and a willingness to play physically. Not only are Vlasic’s qualities similar to Carle, his size is even similar. If Vlasic develops like Carle, San Jose has one of the steals of the 2005 Draft.
Alex Stalock, G
5’11 170 lbs. Catches: Left
Cedar Rapids Roughriders (USHL)
4th Round, 112th Overall
If a player is a proven winner in the USHL, there’s a good chance the San Jose Sharks will take interest. In the 2003 Draft the Sharks selected both Matt Carle and Joe Pavelski. Carle won two gold medals with Team USA and two NCAA National Championships, along with numerous personal awards. Pavelski helped lead Team USA to a silver medal in the Viking Cup in 2004 and then went on to lead the Waterloo Blackhawks to the USHL Championship Clark Cup later that season on his way to being named the USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year. Last season Pavelski led the University of Wisconsin in scoring as a freshman.
Cedar Rapids Roughriders goalie Alex Stalock follows in these winning USHLers’ footsteps as San Jose’s fourth round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Stalock was acquired by the Roughriders from the Sioux Falls Stampede in July 2004 for a second round pick in the 2005 USHL Draft and was able to split time with USHL veteran goalie Dan Tormey during the regular season. Stalock’s 2.73 goals-against average was seventh in the USHL for the regular season and his .905 save percentage was good for eighth. While these were good numbers for the USHL rookie, the best was yet to come.
The St. Paul, Minn. native established himself as Cedar Rapids’ starting goalie in the USHL playoffs as the Roughriders’ hot hand. Head Coach Mark Carlson gave Stalock a shot in Game 2 against the Indiana Ice in the first round of the USHL Playoffs and Stalock reacted with a 41-save performance in a 6-2 win. USHL Second-Team All-Star Dan Tormey finished off the Ice, but Carlson looked to Stalock for the rest of the playoffs. Stalock never allowed more than two goals in any game, and his 40+ save performances against the Chicago Steel were vital advancing Cedar Rapids to the Clark Cup Finals against the Sioux City Muskateers, who took the Roughriders to Game 5 (winner take all) before Stalock and the Riders won the USHL Championship. Stalock posted a .950 save percentage and a 1.44 goals-against average in nine playoff games with a record of 7-2.
Like Pavelski in 2003, Stalock is slated to return to the Roughriders for another season. After completing his second USHL season in 2005-06,Stalock will attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth, returning to his home state. An accomplished Minnesota goalie, Stalock led South St. Paul High to the semi-finals of the 2004 Minnesota Class A State Tournament, where he was named to the All-Tournament Team. Stalock also participated in the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minnesota in July 2004.
Analysis: Setoguchi may have been slightly off the board, and Vlasic may have been an even bigger surprise in the second round, but Stalock was not even on the board. Stalock was unranked by CSS and was not included in Hockey’s Future’s USHL Draft Preview. Tim Burke said in a Sharks press release that San Jose has been watching Stalock for two years, and the Sharks must have liked what they saw in the USHL playoffs. Born July 27, 1987, Stalock was one of the younger picks in the 2005 Draft and likely has five more years of development (one with Cedar Rapids and four with UMD) before San Jose will have to make a decision on him.
Taylor Dakers, G
6’1 165 lbs. Shoots: Left
Kootenay Ice (WHL)
5th Round, 140th Overall
While Stalock may have platooned with Tormey in Cedar Rapids, Taylor Dakers was lucky to play 23 games for the Kootenay Ice in 2004-05 while serving as backup to Ottawa Senators prospect Jeff Glass, one of the top goalies in the WHL the past two seasons. However, Dakers performed well in his limited action with a .916 save percentage and a 2.03 goals-against average in 23 games for the Ice. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Dakers had four shutouts for Kootenay, although Glass did have 8 in his 51 regular season games. As was true in 2003-04, Dakers’ first season in the WHL, the Langley, British Columbia native did not see any action in the 2004-05 playoffs.
CSS cites Dakers for his sound technical skills, good skating and lateral movement, and a quick glove hand. He also has good awareness in net. One of the older draft eligible goalies, born Sept. 14, 1986, Dakers will be eligible to play pro hockey in 2006-07 if he so chooses. San Jose will not need to rush him however, as the team has a plethora of goalies who could be playing pro hockey in 2006-07.
Analysis:: Despite his limited action, Dakers was ranked eighth among all North American goalies by CSS, third amongst all WHL draft-eligible goaltenders. San Jose has tended to favor goalies who play a stand-up/butterfly hybrid, like him, do not get rattled, and stay mentally focused. This style is most notable in Sharks starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov and former Sharks goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. At 6’2 170 pounds, Dakers does take up some space in net and will likely fill out further in the future, giving San Jose another netminder with some size. Dimitri Pätzold, Patrick Ehelechner, and Nolan Schaefer, Thomas Greiss, and Jason Churchill, San Jose’s top goaltending prospects, are all 6’1 or taller. Each of these five could be playing pro hockey in the San Jose organization in 2006-07 if the Sharks so choose, meaning there will be no need to rush Dakers to the AHL.
Derek Joslin, D
6’1 180 lbs. Shoots: Left
Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
5th Round, 149th Overall
Winning seems to follow defenseman Derek Joslin. Joslin won the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League championship with the Aurora Tigers in 2003-04 and won the OHL championship in 2004-05 with the Ottawa 67’s, helping the 67’s make an unlikely berth in the Memorial Cup. An OHL rookie in 2004-05 after only seven games in 2003-04, Joslin finished third in OHL rookie defenseman scoring with 6 goals and 24 assists in 68 games, behind only San Jose Sharks 2004 seventh round pick Michael Vernance and Andrew Hotham. Joslin’s +26 rating was tops on the 67’s and first among all OHL rookies and 16th overall in the OHL. Excelling in the classroom as well, the 18-year-old Joslin won the team’s Bobby Smith Scholastic Award.
Despite being an OHL rookie, Joslin was called upon to skate on the 67’s top defensive pairing with team captain Will Colbert. Tim Burke said in a press release that the Sharks have been watching Joslin for two seasons. The 6’1 180-pound Joslin is known as a good skater with good mobility, but he lacks lower body strength. The Richmond Hill, Ont. native has a good work ethic and always put forth a good effort, something the Sharks like in their players, and even played through a broken scaphoid in the OHL playoffs.
Analysis: While monitoring the progress of 2004 first round pick Lukas Kaspar, the Sharks obviously liked what they saw in Joslin. Joslin is a project player who does have some upside. He reacted well to receiving a lot of minutes as an OHL rookie and put up decent numbers. Should Joslin put on the leg strength he needs and approach 200 pounds, he will have a decent shot of being signed in two years and playing in the AHL. From there, Joslin will have to prove himself as NHL worthy. The 200th overall pick in the 2003 OHL Priority Selection, Joslin is used to exceeding expectations.
P.J. Fenton, LW
5’11 177 lbs. Shoots: Left
UMass-Amherst (Hockey East)
5th Round, 162nd Overall
Fourteen years ago Paul Fenton closed out a moderately successful NHL career with the San Jose Sharks. With respect to Mike McHugh, Fenton is remembered as the original No. 22 by Sharks fans. Fenton scored 11 goals and 5 assists in 60 games for the Sharks in 1991-92, the Sharks inaugural season. Only two seasons early, Fenton had scored 32 goals and added 18 assists in 80 games with the Winnipeg Jets, his best NHL season. At 32 years of age, Paul Fenton retired from the NHL.
Today Fenton is the Director of Player Personnel for the Nashville Predators, but his eldest son could start his career where his father ended his. P.J. Fenton, one of San Jose’s three fifth round picks in the 2005 Draft, does not only bring the Fenton name back into the San Jose organization, but maintains the Sharks tendency of taking players from New England, especially those due to play in the Hockey East Association. Although San Jose drafted no players out of the New England prep or high school ranks, Fenton did play for Cathedral High School for two seasons, helping Cathedral win the Division I South Hockey title in 2002. Fenton was a First-Team All-Western Mass. selection in 2002 before playing junior hockey for the New England Jr. Coyotes in 2002-03 and 2003-04.
After playing two seasons of hockey in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, Fenton moved on to play for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In only his freshman season, Fenton finished second in Minutemen scoring with 13 goals and 12 assists in 38 games. Nine of Fenton’s goals and 8 of his assists came in Hockey East conference play, placing him first among all UMass players in conference scoring and second among all HE freshmen. Fenton’s fabulous freshman season culminated wit his selection as the Minutemen’s Rookie of the Year and a selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. Fenton also excelled in the classroom in 2004-05, a Hockey East All-Academic.
Although Fenton has an offensive upside, much like his father, the younger Fenton’s game is much more intense. The 5’11 177-pound left winger is known for being a gritty forward who is good along the boards and around the net. The hard-working Fenton is very competitive, forechecks aggressively, and is a two-way player. Although Fenton is a good skater, he does need additional leg strength. With the additional speed, agility, balance, and size additional leg strength would give him, Fenton could become a third or fourth-line NHL forward.
Analysis: San Jose nearly went an entire draft without drafting a Massachusetts native or a college hockey player. P.J. Fenton fulfills both of those. Fenton may have his father’s history to make a good story, the younger Fenton earned his selection by San Jose on his own merits. The Sharks like depth forwards who play with an edge who can chip in offensively, and Fenton is one of these. His main weakness, his lack of leg strength, is something 20-year-old can work on in his three more years of college hockey. One of the older selections in the draft, San Jose still will not have to make a decision on Fenton until after the 2007-08 season.
Will Colbert, D
6’2 205 lbs. Shoots: Left
Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
6th Round, 183rd Overall
Despite serving as team captain of the Ottawa 67’s in 2004-05, leading the team to the OHL Championship and a berth to the Memorial Cup, the Ottawa Senators decided to not sign their 2003 seventh round draft pick. Colbert looked set to play for St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia in 2005-06 rather than play his overage year for the 67’s, but now the Sharks drafted Will Colbert in the sixth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the blueliner once again has a shot at playing pro hockey in 2005-06.
Colbert, who turned 20 in February, is eligible to play for the AHL Cleveland Barons in 2005-06. A three-year veteran of the OHL, Colbert was named the 67’s Defenseman of the Year after having been named the runner-up in 2003-04. Colbert played in the 2003-04 OHL All-Star Game, replacing injured Barrie Colts defenseman Jeremy Swanson, and was named to the OHL’s entry in the Canada-Russia Challenge Series. An intelligent player, Colbert was the 67’s nominee for the Bobby Smith Award as the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year. At the young age of 18, Colbert attended the Senators training camp in 2003, the youngest player at the camp. Unfortunately for Colbert, camp ended early when the blueliner broke his wrist.
The 6’3 205-pound Colbert established himself as one of the best defensive defenseman in the OHL, finishing third in the 2003-04 OHL coaches’ poll for the best defensive defenseman in the Eastern Conference. Colbert does have some offensive to his game though, as his 6 goals and 26 assists in 68 games placed him 17th in OHL defenseman scoring. Colbert also added 3 goals and 8 assists in 21 games to finish sixth in OHL defenseman play scoring.
Despite having some size, Colbert is not an overtly physical defenseman. Two of Christian Ehrhoff, Jim Fahey, and Doug Murray should make San Jose this season, since veteran defenseman Mike Rathje signed with Philadelphia. Garrett Stafford, Matt Carkner, Josh Gorges, and Tim Conboy should all return to the Barons, rounding out Cleveland’s top six, but Colbert could prove useful as a seventh defenseman who would likely play a majority of the team’s games.
Analysis: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson played for legendary 67’s coach Brian Kilrea in juniors and trusts his old mentor’s ability to develop and teach players, be it Lukas Kaspar, Derek Joslin, or Will Colbert. Having served as a captain of one of Brian Kilrea’s team, an overachieving team nonetheless, Wilson and the Sharks know that Colbert has the character they like in their players.
Tony Lucia, LW
6’0 175 lbs. Shoots: Left
Wayzata Trojans (USHSW)
6th Round, 193rd Overall
In recent drafts, San Jose has been more apt to draft high school players from Massachusetts than Minnesota, but not with Wayzata Trojan Tony Lucia. Although the name Tony Lucia may not ring a bell for most hockey fans, his father’s, Don Lucia should as the University of Minnesota head coach. Lucia the elder has won two NCAA Championships with the Golden Gophers in 2002 and 2003 and was the WCHA Coach of the Year in 1994 and 1996 with Colorado College. With one of the top coaches in all of college hockey as a father, Tony Lucia has an advantage most prospects do not have, but the Minnesota native is still making it on his own merit.
Lucia scored 27 goals and 36 assists for 64 points in 24 games for Wayzata in 2004-05, his junior year of high school. At the end of the season Lucia played for the River City Lancers of the USHL, playing 11 games and scoring 1 goal. Lucia will forego his senior year at Wayzata to play for the Lancers and advance his career. Born Aug. 23, 1987, Lucia was the youngest player selected by the Sharks in the 2005 Draft, and barely 18 years old, Lucia has already garnered interest from NCAA teams. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lucia has been offered scholarships by Notre Dame and New Hampshire, has visited Colorado College, and is also considering playing for his father at Minnesota. If Lucia has a solid 2005-06 with River City in the USHL, additional offers should come Lucia’s way.
Concerns about Lucia’s size once existed, but now closing in on 6’0 and up to 175 pounds, the young Lucia is quickly making the necessary physical growth to excel in junior hockey. He is known throughout the Minnesota high school ranks for his playmaking and offensive instincts. Although Wayzata missed the State Tournament in 2005, Lucia was a major factor in Wayzata making the semi-finals in the 2004 Minnesota State Tournament.
Lucia was selected with a pick San Jose acquired from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Sharks acquired their second sixth round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft when the Ducks came calling for the 141st overall pick, offering the 193rd overall pick of the 2005 Draft and a seventh round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. San Jose accepted the offer and the Ducks drafted Brian Salcido of Colorado College.
Analysis: San Jose has another project on their hands in Tony Lucia, but he comes from a strong hockey family and is a good student to boot. Lucia will likely play one season of USHL hockey, make a decision where to go to college, and play then four years of college hockey.
Aaron Vickers, Guy Flaming, Eric Forest, Phil Laugher, Jason Ahrens, and DJ Powers contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.