The San Jose Sharks entered the 2006 Pacific Division Shootout with a younger team than they’ve typically brought to the tournament over the past few summers.
They opened the tournament against Phoenix, only to watch the Coyotes erase multiple deficits to steal a win in overtime. San Jose would go on to lose their next match to the Los Angeles Kings before they got things going and took it to the Anaheim Ducks.
In their final match, the rookie squad would play the Ducks for a second straight night. They played them closely, forcing overtime, but it was Anaheim who would sneak out a win in the extra frame.
They played a stronger tournament than their 1-1-2 record reflects, and a couple of the Sharks prospects stepped forward and made it clear that they are the early frontrunners to be part of the newest wave of young talent to come through the pipeline.
The biggest void came up front because former first rounders Steve Bernier and Milan Michalek graduated. The team was also without 2005 first round pick Devin Setoguchi, who suffered a lower body injury prior to the tournament.
The Sharks got their biggest boost from prospects Lukas Kaspar and Joe Pavelski.
Kaspar was especially effective down low, but was able to show a lot of dexterity working throughout the offensive zone with his skating and stickhandling. He led the team in scoring with six points (4 goals, 2 assists), which was also good for the tournament lead in points.
A very smart, hard-nosed centerman, Pavelski reads and anticipates the game very well. He was very impressive in many different situations, and proved to be very valuable.
Behind the two, invitee Brock Hooton and prospect Ashton Rome stepped up and had a good tournament. Hooton, the former right wing from St. Cloud State was lined up at center and was very effective using his size. Rome, whose four points were all assists, has a good eye and a good set of hands. He also had a lot of chemistry with Kaspar and Pavelski.
Mike Iggulden had a very balanced tournament but didn’t come out and surprise anyone. He’s another hard-working forward, who appeared to be a very good two-way player. He’s got a decent level of grit and fire, something you can’t teach.
Michal Macho, who was signed this spring, has decent size and skating ability. He throws the body and is not afraid to work hard down low. Jonathan Tremblay’s time was limited like most of the enforcers in the tournament. When he did fight, he was able to take down Kings invitee Frazer McLaren but his other fights were even.
Sharks’ 2006 second round draft pick Jamie McGinn played in one contest and had a power-play goal.
The strongest part of the San Jose’s roster appeared to be their defense, which was led by Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Known as an offensive defenseman, Vlasic lived up to his billing, as he tied Kaspar for the team lead with six points (2 goals, 4 assists). He took a lot of shots (12, most on the team) and was by far the Sharks most well-balanced rearguard.
Behind Vlasic, invitee Randy King played an equally impressive tournament. He was very good in his own zone, but he did an impressive job jumping up and factoring into the offense as well.
Ty Wishart, the Sharks newest first round pick from this summer’s draft started off slow, but was quick to make the right adjustments. He didn’t over impress, nor did he disappoint.
Along with Wishart, defensemen Dan Spang, Derek Joslin and James DeLory turned in average performances.
While their 1-2-1 record doesn’t do them justice, Sharks goalies Taylor Dakers and Thomas Greiss played an exceptionally good tournament. Splitting time, each netminder saw action in two games apiece. Dakers, who had a strong 2005-06 season with Kootenay in the WHL, was very quick with the glove, did a good job cutting down angles and was positionally sound. Greiss, who played in his native Germany last season, appeared to be the more relaxed goalie, showing a lot of patience and determination in the net.
San Jose, like the rest of the teams, used this tournament to evaluate their players. In the Sharks case, it seems that they are more interested in how their players respond to different situations and different linemates than how they fare in the win-loss column. In the four years their teams have been playing in this summer event, the Sharks have never fared better than third place. This year, as in the past, no matter how much they shuffled the lines on a game-by-game basis, the same players found a way to produce.
While in the first game they opened the door for Phoenix to steal a win and in Game 3 they picked apart Anaheim, the Sharks prospects played the Kings and Ducks very tightly, losing those games by a single goal.
From an organizational standpoint, Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Burke and Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson both publicly commented how pleased they were with the squad they brought to this year’s tournament.
Though it was a young team, it is clear just who the next top prospects should be in a franchise which has found much success from within.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.