Ryan Merkley’s perspective is part four of a series that will be highlighting some of the prospects within the San Jose Sharks organization.
The San Jose Sharks are pretty thin when it comes to first round picks selected in this past decade remaining within the organization. One of those last three picks is 2018 21st overall pick Ryan Merkley.
The 18-year-old blueliner was one of the highest rated prospects in the entire draft that year but fell to the Sharks at 21 because of behavioral issues. Nevertheless San Jose’s front office felt comfortable enough with the culture that resonates within the organization. Doubling down on the sentiment by inking the defender to 3 year 3.675 million dollar deal last summer.
Ryan Merkley had a pretty wild year in what was his 3rd official season in the OHL. Midway through his 3rd season with the Guelph Storm he got shipped out to the Peterborough Petes in a monster deal in an attempt to recoup some draft capital and switch things up in the locker room.
Despite the turbulent season for the right-hander he performed fairly well. Merkley amassed the second most primary and overall points among all defenders over the course of the regular season. His ability to transition the puck through all 3 zones using his superior skating ability is a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.
There is a lot to like about Merkley’s game especially inside the offensive zone. He doesn’t have a booming shot but it does seem to have an uncanny ability to find the dangerous areas of the ice. The Ontario native has led the entire OHL in primary assists during the past two seasons and finished 2nd in his rookie campaign in 2016 – 2017.
These primary assists totals exhibit that a significant amount of a teams offense flows through Ryan Merkley. Whether it was with the Guelph Storm or in Peterborough, Merkley has been the vocal point to a teams offense, regardless of the opinions surrounding his game.
Not only does the puck seem to find his teammates sticks. He can also find the back of the net on a consistent basis. The 14 goals from last season aren’t all that impressive but his consistency over the past 3 seasons are a sign of a potential high-profile scorer from the blueline. He’s compiled 39 goals in his 3 year career while maintaining a 8.94 shooting percentage, per prospect-stats. Even though it’s at the Junior level a steady scoring output along with an efficient shooting percentage shows that his scoring prowess is something that will be transferable into the professional leagues.
At 5’11 170 pounds Merkley remains a bit undersized and is sort a liability in the defensive zone however the San Jose Sharks are in no rush to get him on the active roster of either professional club. So anticipate Team Teal’s only blue chip prospect within their ranks to continue his development down at the OHL level with the Peterborough Petes.
Still we should all expect to see Merkley at the prospect scrimmage on June 28th. Sharks fans have waited for this caliber of a player developing within their ranks for a number of years. It’ll be very interesting to see how he responds next year after a complete off-season with his new OHL club.