San Jose Sharks WHL Playoff Preview

Nov 25, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; The San Jose Sharks enter the ice through the shark
Nov 25, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; The San Jose Sharks enter the ice through the shark /

We continue our preview of the CHL playoffs with the Western Hockey League (WHL) today.

While Kevin Labanc and Dylan Sadowy are notable prospects, there are many others that are affiliated with the San Jose Sharks as well.

Kelowna Rockets (11) vs. Kamloops Blazers

We start with one of the more notorious players in the Sharks’ pipeline. We have discussed about Rourke Chartier before and the narrative remains the same. After a stellar campaign that led to the Memorial Cup Final, Chartier hasn’t performed up to expectations.

But were those expectations fair? A lot of fans were basing their hopes off of a sky-high shooting percentage that should make most fans cautious. Also having to play on a depleted Rockets team doesn’t help Chartier’s confidence either. From last year’s team, the Rockets are without Leon Draisaitl, Josh Morrissey, Madison Bowey, Nick Merkley and I probably forgot a few more as well.

With his play reaching a plateau at the World Juniors (who on Canada didn’t play poorly?), Chartier’s performance should be a focus point for Sharks fans.

Especially against an upstart Blazers team, this series could be closer than expected.

More from Blades of Teal

While a loss in this series would be surprising for the Rockets,it wouldn’t be the worst thing for Chartier as he’ll get to collect an AHL paycheck playing with the San Jose Barracuda. The factor of a much higher salary should play into the results of some of these series.

Portland Winterhawks vs. Everett Silvertips

Speaking of the Barracuda, Alex Schoenborn just signed an entry-level contract with the Sharks. As another player on a depleted squad, Schoenborn’s mindset might be elsewhere as his team gets closer to elimination. 

With two top-end goalies in Adin Hill and Carter Hart, there won’t be much offense in this series. So I’m assuming Schoenborn will focus more on preparing himself for the AHL. He isn’t known as an offensive dynamo but with a good playoffs and summer, his skill-set should translate to the Barracuda.

As for the series, the Silvertips should be favored. Their systems make it difficult for anyone to score on them, especially with Noah Juulsen and Brycen Martin manning the blue-line. Teams will need a crafty offense to get by the nasty trap game of the Silvertips.

In most playoff formats, goaltending is key and whichever goalie has the better series will give his team the better chance to win.

Red Deer Rebels vs. Calgary Hitmen

In a surprising move at the trade deadline, 2015 fourth-round pick Adam Helewka was acquired by the Memorial Cup hosting Rebels. That vaults him as the Sharks prospect to watch this playoffs alongside Timo Meier.

With the Rebels hosting, Helewka is guaranteed a long playoff run as even if they lose in the first round, an appearance in the final tournament is assured. As a result, the pressure is on to succeed in the playoffs. Almost as if the Sharks just won the Presidents Trophy.

The Hitmen are aware of that and will give the Rebels a tough test in the first round. They lost Jake Virtanen to the Vancouver Canucks but still possess a scary defense led by Travis Sanheim and Jake Bean. These two weapons will make sure the Rebels will regret taking any penalties in this series.

On the other hand, the Rebels loaded up at the trade deadline by acquiring Helewka and Jake DeBrusk. That will help an already good forward core overcome the forward depth that the Hitmen will bring.

Nonetheless, this will be an exciting series to watch between two even teams. Which is something we aren’t used to saying when talking about the Memorial Cup hosts in the first round.

That One Other Guy

Next: Labanc, Sadowy Highlight OHL Playoffs For Sharks Prospects

The Sharks also signed another prospect to a deal from the WHL. That prospect is Jonathon Martin from the Swift Current Broncos. Unfortunately, the Broncos didn’t qualify for this year’s playoffs so Martin will find himself playing in the Sharks organization early. Though I’m not sure if he will play for the Barracuda or the Allen Americans in the ECHL. Fans should always be wary of prospects who have a breakout year as an overager so his development will be interesting to keep track of.