Sharks Top 20 prospects, Fall 2007

By Jeff Dahlia

The San Jose Sharks continue to balance out their prospect pipeline, as four 2007 draftees enter the top 20 this fall.  The Sharks remain strong between the pipes, with four goalies on the list, while Dmitri Patzold has moved onto the NHL. San Jose has also amassed a nice collection of centers and defensemen, who are all at different stages in their development, ensuring the franchise will have depth and the ability to make trades down the line, if need be.

Sharks Top 20 at a Glance

1. Logan Couture, C
2. Ty Wishart, D
3. Devin Setoguchi, RW
4. Joe Pavelski, C
5. Nick Petrecki, D
6. Torrey Mitchell, C
7. Thomas Greiss, G
8. Jamie McGinn, LW
9. Derek Joslin, D
10. Dan Spang, D
11. Taylor Dakers, G
12. Lukas Kaspar, LW
13. Mike Iggulden, RW
14. James DeLory, D
15. Steven Zalewski, C
16. Tyson Sexsmith, G
17. Timo Pielmeier, G
18. T.J. Fox, C
19. Mike Morris, C
20. P.J. Fenton, LW

1. (NR) Logan Couture, C

1st Round, 9th – 2007, 18, 6’0, 200

The draft-day moves GM Doug Wilson pulled off this summer in order to get Logan Couture only speaks to how much the franchise coveted the young pivot heading into Columbus. In that respect, along with the talent and potential this young man holds, Couture is an easy choice for the Sharks top prospect.

Playing a shortened 2006-07 season with the Ottawa 67’s due to injury and illness early on, Couture was able to bounce back and post 78 points (26 goals, 52 assists) in 54 games played. He was a constant force and helped lead his team to the playoffs. Though the 67’s postseason was short-lived, if it weren’t for Couture and other key leaders, Ottawa would have been packing it in for the summer early.

Back with 67’s for the 2007-08 season, look to Couture to add size and strength. He’s got the skating, vision, and hands, but he needs to add to another level of grit to his game. Right now, his game translates somewhere between a first and second line centerman, something that will become defined as he moves forward.

2. (2) Ty Wishart, D

1st Round, 16th – 2006, 19, 6’4, 205

San Jose’s top defenseman, Ty Wishart, holds his spot on the fall rankings. Wishart had a very productive and busy season last year. Playing in his third season with the Prince George in the WHL, Wishart finished as the team’s top rearguard. He led all blueliners in scoring 49 points (11 goals, 38 assists) in 62 games. He also led the team with a plus-15.

Even though Prince George beefed up their roster last season, Wishart was also an integral part in helping the Cougars make the postseason for the second straight year. Wishart was again golden as his team made a surprise deep push into the third round of the postseason, before getting bounced by the Vancouver Giants.

After his season with the Cougars, Wishart participated in the Super Series for Team Canada’s national junior squad. In the eight-game series, Wishart saw action in six of those contests. He remained off the scorer’s sheet, but the experience alone at the international level was a huge plus for him.

Due to the tournament, the Comox native arrived in San Jose late for camp and was subsequently sent back to Prince George. He has already picked up where he left off last season, as he’ll be looked to to help lead a young Cougars squad.

3. (3) Devin Setoguchi, RW

1st Round, 8th – 2005, 20, 6’0, 205

Devin Setoguchi finished out his junior career with Prince George Cougars – via an off-season trade by the Saskatoon Blades – and was the team’s top forward in both the regular and postseason. He finished off the 2006-07 campaign with a nine-game scoring streak en route to 65 points (36 goals, 29 assists) in 55 games. 

The right winger came into Sharks camp this summer healthy and hungry to earn a spot on the team’s roster. He played in the majority of San Jose’s preseason games, was very effective, and was rewarded for that effort. However, as the season started last week, Setoguchi was sidelined nursing an ankle he injured against the Calgary Flames in the last preseason match-up.

Setoguchi is a strong skater who is going to be a strong two-way winger for the Sharks. He’s a very good stickhandler who protects the puck well and constantly looks to create. He’ll be used in all situations, as he is very strong on the forecheck and is also responsible in his own zone. He is always conscious of where he is in relation to his teammates and reads and sees the game very well.

4. (1) Joe Pavelski, C

7th Round, 205th – 2003, 23, 5’11, 195

After making quick work of the scene in the AHL in Worcester last year, Joe Pavelski went on to establish himself in the NHL. He finished the 2006-07 season with the Sharks, scoring 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 48 games.

Pavelski came back this year with Sharks and has been centering the third line. Even though he’s already proven he can play in the NHL, he’s going to have to continue to improve his game and his numbers from last year. Statistically speaking, the 50-60 point range is not asking too much from a third line center. His strong work ethic and noise for the puck should point him in the right direction. 

5. (NR) Nick Petrecki, D

1st Round, 28th – 2007, 18, 6’3, 210

Nick Petrecki is another prospect who benefited as the Sharks maneuvered to move up in the first round at the draft this year. A big blueliner who’s both physically and mentally mature for his age, Petrecki proved to be a solid defenseman for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL last season. He led all defenseman in scoring with 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) during his 2006-07 all-star year.

The Clifton Park native is about to start the next chapter of his development with Boston College. Under the direction of head coach Jerry York, expect the young rearguard to be a sponge, as he should develop into a bona fide two-way threat. He’ll need to work on his speed and overall quickness. Everything else is there; it will be a matter of putting it all together.

6. (8) Torrey Mitchell, C

4th Round, 129th – 2004, 22, 5’11, 190

After finishing off his junior year at the University of Vermont, where he led the Catamounts in scoring with 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) for the second straight season, Torrey Mitchell signed an entry-level contract with the Sharks. He finished the 2006-07 season with Worcester in the AHL, where he went on to score an additional 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in the Sharks final 11 games. 

Mitchell started turning heads when he showed his ability to skate and make plays with the seasoned NHLers. He never let down during camp and he played hard in all areas and got onto the scorer’s sheet often in the preseason. For his hard work and visible talent, Mitchell, like Setoguchi, earned a spot on the Sharks 22-man roster.

Mitchell is going to be one of the Sharks workhorses over the next few years. He’s got the potential to be a second line center, but he’s going to have to work very hard to get there. Regardless, San Jose wouldn’t be complaining if Couture, Mitchell, and Pavelski become their top three centers down the road.

7. (7) Thomas Greiss, G

3rd Round, 194th – 2004, 21, 6’1, 200

Thomas Greiss is on his way to proving that the Sharks organizational approach is absolutely sound when it comes to netminders. In his first season in North America, Greiss played a good year with Worcester for the Sharks. In 43 games, he went 26-15-2, with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. The rookie capped off the regular season 17th among all goalies in the AHL, and third among all rookies in the league. He was named rookie of the year for the Worcester Sharks, helping the team to a spectacular late-season finish that vaulted them into the playoffs.

The organization feels he’s really close to playing in the league, if he’s not being set to go. Until he gets his chance, Greiss is going to have to keep plying his trade and try to better every day in Worcester.

8. (5) Jamie McGinn, LW

2nd Round, 36th – 2006 19, 6’1, 200

Although he fell three slots on the list, Jamie McGinn is still in good company. After playing his third season with the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL, McGinn has advanced his game rather nicely. Stepping up last season with 89 points (46 goals, 43 assists) in 68 games, the Fergus native tightened up his game at both ends. Not only did he increase his point total for the third straight year, but he also was able to reduce his plus/minus and penalty minutes.

McGinn’s top assets are his hockey smarts and speed. He is a versatile player who is very responsible and can be used in all situations. Expect the left winger to continue to improve his numbers and help Couture push the 67’s back into the playoffs.

9. (6) Derek Joslin, D

5th Round, 149th – 2005, 20, 6’1, 210

Derek Joslin finished out his junior career for the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL last season as a leader on his team and an all-star in the league.  He had 49 points (11 goals, 38 assists) during the regular season, which led all blueliners in goals, assists and scoring. After the 67’s were bounced out of the playoffs, he joined Worcester to close out the year.

This season, Joslin officially starts his pro career as he’s skating with the Sharks in the AHL. He has the size and skill but he needs to spend this season making a swift adjustment to the speed and intensity of the game at this level. Working from his zone up the ice, Joslin will need to make better reads and overall decisions with the puck. He’ll be a leader in his own zone, but he needs to get quicker so he can read and react with more efficiency. His offensive game is average at best, as it will be brought along slowly. Expect more immediate emphasis on working in his own zone and overall positioning.

10. (10) Dan Spang, D

2nd Round, 52nd – 2002, 24, 6’0, 205

Dan Spang spent his time patiently developing for the Sharks in the AHL last season. Coming off a solid four years at Boston University, the blueliner saw a productive year even though he missed time due to a separated shoulder at the start of the season and a concussion at the end of the season. Known more as a defensive defenseman with good offensive pop, Spang was able to register 25 points (4 goals, 21 assists) in his first pro season.

Spang is another prospect that the Sharks are high on. He’s a hard worker and a team leader, something that will have a big impact on rest of the team in Worcester. If he continues to progress and develop at his current place, you should expect him to get a cup or two with San Jose if the defense doesn’t settle. He may not be 100 percent ready right now, but a good taste of NHL action may be all he needs to make his mark.

11. (4) Taylor Dakers, G

5th Round, 140th – 2005, 21, 6’1, 175

After closing out a successful career in the WHL, Taylor Dakers is taking the step up to Worcester this season. Coming out of the Kootenay Ice organization, he brings an impressive 2.43 save percentage and .909 save percentage, which he accumulated over four seasons. For the last two seasons, Dakers was the most consistent player the Ice had in their line-up. He’s matured mentally and physically over the last four years and is poised to succeed in the AHL.

He’s going to get his starts, but the majority of time is going to go to Greiss. However, if he comes in and proves to be the better netminder, who says the roles can’t be reserved?  Regardless, he’s going to get to focus on his game at the next level and will have the services of Cap Raeder to help him with the transition.

12. (9) Lukas Kaspar, LW

1st Round, 22nd – 2004, 22, 6’2, 200

Lukas Kaspar was a steady forward in the AHL last season, earning 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists), 64 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating. He made a meager improvement in scoring, but made some of his bigger improvements reducing both his penalty minutes and his plus/minus rating.

After spending the last two seasons in the AHL and a year in the OHL, Kaspar really hasn’t put it all together. In the final season of his entry-level contract, the window of opportunity for the Czech native to make the NHL full time with the Sharks may be running out. San Jose is hoping that he’ll finally deliver that ability to be a high-impact player with a lot more consistency. He’s got the skill and the nose for offense, he’s just got to execute. If he can be a smart two-way player and keep his offensive numbers up, he finally might be able to catch on with San Jose.

13. (15) Mike Iggulden, RW

Free Agent Signee – 2006, 24, 6’3, 215

Mike Iggulden has been one of the most consistent prospects for the Sharks in the AHL over the past two seasons. As the season went on, he got stronger and was more consistent in his game. Last year, he was the strongest prospect point producer for the Worcester, scoring 57 points (30 goals, 27 assists) in 73 games.

Iggulden has the potential to be a third or fourth line winger in the NHL. He has size and talent, and it doesn’t appear that he’s far from seeing fourth line duty down the road for San Jose. He’ll have to continue to improve and be a bigger factor in Worcester this season in order to get a call-up if needed. He’s still headed in the right direction and should be one the leaders up front for the Sharks.

14. (14) James DeLory, D

4th Round, 98th – 2006, 19, 6’4, 215

Already in his fourth season with the Generals, James DeLory is part of a defensive unit that should be one of the tops in the OHL this season. GM and head coach Brad Selwood has acquired additional talent at both ends of the ice to help make a push for the league crown and a Memorial Cup run.

Putting up only 25 points (4 goals, 21 assists) in 61 games last season, expect the team to turn to Eric Regan or Michael Del Zotto to add most of the offensive punch from the rear. As an assistant captain, DeLory is going to be looked to push and energize his teammates with his unselfish and fierce style of play. He’s a rugged defenseman who will play it to the bone. He has the size and power to play the pro game, but he needs to spend this year focusing on playing a smarter game as well as showing he can thrive in key situations.

15. (18) Steven Zalewski, C

5th Round, 153rd – 2004, 21, 6’0, 210

Golden Knights pivot Steven Zalewski heads into his final season at Clarkson University. As a junior, he centered one of Clarkson’s top lines, playing the majority of the season between Shawn Weller and Matt Beca. The trio helped Clarkson to a 29-5-9 season and a second place finish in the ECAC. Zalewski finished the year with 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 39 games.

San Jose is very interested in the very strong two-way forward and they feel he’s got a great chance to play in the NHL one day. They put an offer out there for the New Hartford native but he’s sticking with Clarkson for his fourth and final season. Expect Zalewski to be paired up with Beca again this year as they look to replace Weller, who has moved on in his career with the Ottawa Senators. If the Golden Knights are going to repeat the success they had during the 2006-07 season, Zalewski and the rest of the seniors are going to have to step up and lead the way.

16. (NR) Tyson Sexsmith, G

3rd Round, 94th – 2007, 18, 5’11, 210

Tyson Sexsmith has quite an impressive resume for such a short career with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL. He backstopped the Giants to the Memorial Cup last season. During the regular season, he posted a 31-12-2 record, along with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. He played equally impressively in the WHL playoffs, but the Giants lost the championship to the Medicine Hat Tigers is a hard-fought seven-game series. He played lights out as Vancouver redeemed themselves in the Memorial Cup final, beating Medicine Hat 3-1. With the final win some months ago, Sexsmith became the youngest goalie in junior hockey history to guide a team to a Memorial Cup.

You can’t ignore that Sexsmith played behind a great team, one of the best defenses in all the WHL last season. However, you also can’t ignore the fact that he did step it up and show a lot of poise and control in very critical situations. This season will tell just how good of a goalie Sexsmith is, as the Giants have lost some of their top players from last season’s memorable team.

17. (NR) Timo Pielmeier, G

3rd Round, 83rd – 2007, 18, 5’11, 175

Timo Pielmeier is the last of the Sharks strong goaltenders to make the top 20 this go around. An elite young netminder in his native Germany, Pielmeier has continuously progressed in the lower levels and on the international stage.

Pielmeier has since moved on and is playing with the St. John’s Fog Devils in the QMJHL for the 2007-08 season. He’s had a rough start, but once he gets accustomed to the talent level and flow of the games, expect his numbers to tighten up.

He’s a medium-sized goalie, who has good positioning and follows the play well, especially in traffic. He stays really low, which is deceptive for shooters who love to roof the puck because he can take away the top half quickly. He’s good with the leather and likes to play the puck. He needs to work on his rebounds, his strength and lateral movement.

18. (12) Mike Morris, RW

1st Round, 27th – 2002, 24, 6’1, 185

Since his freshman year at Northeastern University, Mike Morris has been fighting to get back to being Mike Morris pre-college. After experiencing two concussions, a handful of associated medical issues and most recently, an appendectomy last season, the Braintree native has had yet to back down. The surgery regulated Morris to 20 games last season, but he was still good enough to finish third in team scoring with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists). Regardless, Morris was considered a strong leader at Northeastern from Day 1.

When he is on, Morris is a good two-way right winger, he can put up points and he’s good in all zones. It’s safe to say that he’ll be spending the entire season with Worcester in order to make the transition. If he can regain his form, he’s going to be worth the wait. He’s got a big challenge ahead, but as he has previously demonstrated, his character, determination, and perseverance are second to none. That is what adds value to his profile and keeps him in the mix, regardless of the medical setbacks.

19. (NR) T.J. Fox, C

Free Agent Signee – 2007, 23, 6’1, 197

T.J. Fox entered the Sharks program this summer after finishing out a solid sophomore season while playing at Union College. In 36 games played last year, the pivot led the team in with 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists). Prior to last year, Fox had his freshman season cut short when he was suspended for violating a team rule. However, what is in the past is in the past.

Fox is a bit older than most rookies. He was 21 years old when he entered the Dutchmen’s program. A late bloomer of sorts, Fox is a strong skater who needs to round out his overall game. He has good offensive instincts and has matured well over the last few seasons. Once he finds his balance in the ‘A,’ expect to see him on the score sheet.

20. (17) P.J. Fenton, LW

5th Round, 162nd – 2005, 22, 5’11, 185

As a senior at UMass, P.J. Fenton will look to put an exclamation point on his collegiate career with the Minutemen this year. The Longmeadow native was able to find success with Brett Watson and Alex Berry towards the middle of the season. Fenton ended up finishing the season third in team scoring with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 39 games.

All three forwards return this season, so it’s probably safe to say that Cahoon is going to test that pairing early on to make sure the chemistry still exists. As for Fenton, he’ll be serving as one of the Minutemen assistant captains this year. This will be key because UMass will need his spirit, determination, and level of play to help build and continue the success from last year. He’ll be a key player up front; also expect him to have an equal role on several special teams. He should be one of the team’s top two-way players this season.

Thomas Kadner, D.J. Powers and Janine Pilkington contributed to this article.  Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.