1. Ryan Merkley
While Ryan Merkley did not fill up the stat sheet over the weekend, the San Jose Sharks 2018 first-round draft pick impressed in all facets on the blue line. The 18-year-old defenseman was all over the ice, jumping up on odd-man rushes and breaking up playing in the neutral and defensive zones.
A concern rose with Merkley throughout the rookie camp was his recklessness, given his 63 penalty minutes in 63 games last year with the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League. However, the 21st overall pick proved he can control his temper. Merkley expressed fearlessness as he skated down the ice taking heavy hits from his opposition.
Merkley has been comparable to 2017 Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns for his mentality to create scoring breaks from San Jose’s territory as well as move through on offensive rushes with ease. In the season to come, Burns will soon take Merkley under his wing and shape him into one of the Sharks top four defensemen with discipline and smart decision-making.
A native of Oakville, Ontario, Merkley arguably stands as the Sharks top prospect has he continues to improve his shot and develop his strength at the Sharks main training camp. Depending on his play in the preseason, Merkley holds a real chance at playing with the San Jose Sharks during the upcoming 2018-2019 season.
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The Sharks young stars shined bright over a successful inaugural Rookie Faceoff. With so many prospects taking the spotlight over the four-day event, San Jose’s youth looks to grow even more in the main training camp taking place for the next week.
The Sharks will find out which top rookies are ready to step up and embrace the hunt as the preseason begins Tuesday, September 18 against the Anaheim Ducks.