San Jose held just five picks in the NHL Draft, but made the most of it with their selections.
What a draft it was.
I can’t believe the San Jose Sharks made all of those moves to acquire a whopping five players. Doug Wilson didn’t even need to make any trades at the draft table to do it (the first time in forever that’s happened). Even if that’s the case, the Sharks should be happy with the players they ended up with. So let’s look at the players the Sharks decided to select.
60th overall: Dylan Gambrell – Center – University of Denver
This was a surprising pick if you worship the draft rankings. With many skilled forwards still available, Tim Burke and company went off the board in the second round. Since when have they ever done that? But with Gambrell in his third year of eligibility and being ranked in the third or fourth round, I can understand why Sharks fans are sour on the pick.
But there is reason for hope. While Gambrell is a project that needs multiple years of development, the scoring numbers he put up are encouraging.
We talked about how Maxim Letunov was a great acquisition for the Sharks. While the 60th overall pick is a higher price to pay, the numbers he put up indicate that his skillset is something the Sharks can work with. His development is headed towards the right path so if San Jose can continue that trend, Gambrell could be headed towards a solid NHL career.
111th overall: Noah Gregor – Center – Moose Jaw Warriors
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I don’t know how Gregor was available in the fourth round, but the Sharks picked up a prospect that most fans would have been happy taking at 60. Like Gambrell, the Sharks have another prospect that can carve out a solid NHL career with continued development.
Any time a first-time draft eligible prospect who scored at a point-per-game clip is available in the fourth round, you should select them. That being said, the Sharks should wait and see before appointing Gregor the title of a top prospect. While his numbers are very encouraging, I’m curious to see if he can continue putting up these numbers (which I’m sure he will). After all, one good season shouldn’t make an amazing prospect.
But if that’s the main concern with a prospect then that’s a good indicator the Sharks made a great selection. I’d rather have a prospect with great skills and hockey sense than the alternative. Tracking Gregor’s development will be another huge story for next season.
150th overall: Manuel Wiederer – Center – Moncton Wildcats
It’s about time the Sharks drafted a German again. I was afraid Wilson was losing his sense of self. After being the first German drafted by the Sharks since Konrad Abeltshauser, Sharks fans can have confidence the scouting staff of old is back. Not only that, but the Sharks continued to add to their impressive set of center prospects in this draft.
While another over-ager, Wiederer is a prospect that also scored over a point-per-game so there is offensive upside here. However, the concern here is that he spent a lot of the season paired with super-prospect Conor Garland. But this is the end of the fifth round we’re talking about, any time you can find a prospect with decent upside you take them. Quality of teammate shouldn’t matter.
I do find it interesting that the Sharks are leaning towards prospects that can play professional hockey sooner rather than later though.
180th overall: Mark Shoemaker – Defense – North Bay Battalion
We now arrive at the Tim Burke/Doug Wilson specialty, the “shutdown” defenseman with 13 points in 67 games. Most of you know how I feel about these type of defensemen but there is still hope here. However, if Shoemaker is to have any NHL success, next season must be a huge step forward for his development.
The key to being prepared for the NHL is establishing a track record of offensive production in junior. If that can be done, then the Sharks might have a steal at the end of the sixth round. However since Marc-Edouard Vlasic is the only defenseman in this organization to have done that, the numbers are against Shoemaker.
There isn’t much risk to this pick since it is at the end of the sixth round. All I know is the Sharks have drafted Adam Parsells, Alexis Vanier, Gage Ausmus, Cliff Watson, Justin Sefton and Isaac Mcleod in consecutive drafts and they still have a need for shutdown defensemen. Why is that the case? Maybe the solution is to draft a different type of defenseman. At least the Sharks will continue their run of cool names in the organization.
210th overall: Joachim Blichfeld – Winger – Malmo Redhawks
If you have the second-to-last pick in the draft, you might as well take someone with some versatility. That is what the Sharks did with Blichfeld.
I understand that switching wings can throw some players off, but if Blichfeld is a guy that can play both positions, that will provide some flexibility for the Sharks. Also, as someone drafted out of Europe, Blichfeld can turn pro before the age of 20. This is despite rumors that he might join the Halifax Mooseheads next season.
That being said, his numbers for a 17-year old in the Swedish under-20 league are impressive considering that he could have played in the under-18 league instead. With his flexibility the Sharks can afford to track his progress and monitor his development before he turns pro. Something that is a bonus when drafting in the seventh round.
As usual, I would like to see the Sharks do a better job at drafting defensemen but since they only made one selection there, this was a good draft from my perspective. Could the Sharks have had a better draft? Sure, but being the last team to make their first selection, the Sharks made sure they acquired players that can make an impact in the organization.
They may have only had five draft picks but with 19 selections in the past two drafts, preventing an overflow in the organization is desirable. Sharks fans should be happy with this forward group and we’ll make sure to keep tabs on them as the season progresses.