San Jose has a couple of prospects that are currently participating in the 2016 Memorial Cup.
While San Jose Sharks fans are focused on their current playoff run, there are a couple of Sharks fighting for a trophy harder to win then the Stanley Cup. In between games, fans should look to how Timo Meier and Adam Helewka are performing on the biggest stage of junior hockey.
With both players likely in their final season of juniors, they were blessed with trades to the top ranked team (Meier) and the tournament host (Helewka). So how are these two seizing the opportunity to win the Memorial Cup?
The night started with the host Red Deer Rebels taking on the high powered London Knights with this game going as expected. Like many other host teams before them, the Rebels looked overwhelmed by the plethora of prospects on the Knights. One look at the Knights roster and you can see why they are competing in this tournament.
These prospects include potential top-five picks Matt Tkachuk and Olli Juolevi, along with top prospects Max Jones, Cliff Pu, and Victor Mete. That doesn’t include the players already belonging to NHL teams such as Christian Dvorak and the best player in juniors, Mitchell Marner.
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Marner proved why he is so touted as he torched the Rebels for five points on their way to a 6-2 rout. Helewka did manage to score in garbage time but this game proved that beating the Knights in any fashion will be a tall order.
The next night featured the other two teams with Meier’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies taking on the preseason favorite in the Brandon Wheat Kings and 2017 top prospect Nolan Patrick. This one would go in a similar manner but the Sharks prospect would play the king this time.
So after the two prospects started the tournament in opposite directions, the two teams met tonight for their second game of the round-robin.
While this game started with another Meier goal and the Huskies taking a quick lead, Helewka quickly led his team to a sound 5-2 victory with three points of his own. After three games, its safe to say that both Meier and Helewka have been some of the top performers at the Memorial Cup Tournament this year.
Meier is already considered by most Sharks fans as the top prospect in this organization but after this season, Helewka might start to claw his way there himself.
Sharks Sign Two More Players
Lost in all the chaos happening with both prospects and the parent club, the Sharks signed two more players to entry-level contracts. The first player is former Anaheim Ducks draft pick Tim Heed. A notable offensive-defenseman in the SHL, Heed can give the San Jose Barracuda an offensive punch next season while also rounding out his defensive game.
The other player is former Ottawa Senators draft pick Marcus Sorenson. Sorenson will provide the Sharks with speed, offense and another weapon in the shootout. With these signings, training camp next summer should be very competitive.
If Joonas Donskoi is any indication, the Sharks are smart to sign similar players to entry-level deals. All it takes is for one of these players to make an impact for Doug Wilson to look like a genius.
Two More Prospects Remain Unsigned
Speaking of taking advantage of other teams unsigned draft picks, the Sharks have until June 1st to sign two players from the 2014 draft class. Otherwise, the team will release the rights to both Alexis Vanier and Dylan Sadowy.
Vanier’s play has stagnated since the draft and while a mid-season trade brought a resurgence to his game, there might not be enough room on the team for another over-ager playing well in juniors. The interesting case here is Sadowy.
After Sadowy scored two consecutive 40-goal seasons, if the Sharks let Sadowy re-enter the draft, he becomes one of the biggest wild cards. We’ve seen many teams reach for older players re-entering the draft and Sadowy could earn a decent chance somewhere else. We’ve also seen players in similar situations go on to become stars such as Fredrik Anderson, Jarret Stoll and Matt Lombardi.
While a phenomenal goal-scorer, Sadowy has had pedestrian assist totals throughout his junior career. If he re-enters the draft, that might be because the Sharks didn’t see a complete game from him. If that happens, Sadowy could get a bigger opportunity somewhere else and cost the Sharks big. Let’s hope that this decision doesn’t come back to haunt the team in the future.