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San Jose Sharks: 2008-2009 Top 12 Prospects

Shane Malloy, Prospect Insider

11/10/2008 3:06:29 PM

Once again, the San Jose Sharks are on the top of the list in terms of identifying and developing talent for the NHL. You only have to look at the last couple of seasons as an example of their prowess with the likes of Marc-Edward Vlasic, Milan Michalek, Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski, Marcel Goc and traded draft picks Ty Wishart, Matt Carle, Steve Bernier, Christian Ehrhoff and Josh Gorges becoming valuable assets to other organizations. That does not include Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart in the Joe Thornton trade in 2006.

The continuous depth of the farm system is what will make the Sharks a long-term contender in the NHL similar to the Detroit Red Wings of the nineties. One NHL scout from another organization who chose to remain anonymous made a valid point when he stated "It has been their 1st round successes from 1994 to 2003 that has made a huge difference where 10 out those 12 players are in the NHL and the other is a rookie in the AHL and other organizations usually average a 50% success rate on first rounders". It has not only been the first round draft picks that have made an impact the later round choices that can push an organization over the top. When discussing the Sharks later round gems like Evgeni Nabokov, Mikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala in goal and Christian Ehrhoff on defense along with Mark Smith up front. The scout said "They continually find players with attributes to play the pro game, but they generally are patient with their development as well which makes just as much difference as finding them".

Look for Lukas Kaspar and Mike Morris to get some ice time and a limited roster spot perhaps year or the next if they can be consistent. Although they have Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn they could use another couple forwards with skill to eventually replace Kaspar and Morris if they do not develop. The defense has a strong prospect in Nick Petrecki but lacks the depth in this area and it is something that should be addressed. Good potential and incredible depth in net with Tomas Greiss, Taylor Dakers, Tyson Sexsmith, Alex Stalock, Timo Pielmeier and Harri Sateri.

Currently they have four first round picks within this top ten list along with a host of later round sleepers with potential to make the roster in a few years. General Manager Doug Wilson has been in a favorable position at trade deadline time as he has a wealth of players and developing prospects to negotiate with. Now that some of the depth has been traded away to win now, the scouting department will need to replenish the ranks over the next two years.

Logan Couture - Center, 19 (1st round 9th overall 2007)
Currently with Ottawa (OHL)
A fourth year junior who is on the cusp of a NHL lineup has been undervalued and under estimated due to his lack of exposure and appearance at the WJC. Showed a tremendous amount of resolve and character considering he battled through mononucleosis and a leg injury and only missed 14 games that year. With a perpetual low energy level he still was one of the most dangerous players on the ice every night. Understands the game well and does allot of the little details well and makes simple plays to maintain possession or stop an opportunity. Is a good skater and has enough quickness to win races to loose pucks or sneak by defenders. At 6 foot 0 and 195 pounds Couture will need to continue to get stronger and with an injury free off-season could realistically push a veteran off the roster in 2009-2010. At the time of this report he had 183 games played with 213 points to his credit along with 113 penalty minutes so he is not considered a wall flower. Tim Burke the Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting has been happy with his development and his play at the Sharks camp "His puck protection is better and his shot has really improved and we like where he is at right now".

He has the puck skills and passing ability to be a top two line center in the NHL and a consistent point producer 5 on 5 or on the powerplay. Is considered one of the best defensive forwards with skill among his peers and his willingness to block shots and sacrifice for the team has not gone unnoticed. Has missed some games in each season to injury so he must show he can be durable in the future. He has the potential to develop into a top six forward and a reliable two-way center that shows the ability to be clutch. Of his 75 goals scored so far in the OHL 41 goals have been clutch goals which are short handed, game winning, first goals and insurance goals. That works out to 54.6% of his goals have a significant impact on the game which is a true measure of his efficiency when on the ice. Tim Burke best describes him best "I do not think he is the type of guy that is attractive like dynamic but when you watch everything he does in a game you really appreciate him, Logan is the type of guy that is going to play every play and stay in every zone and he not going to say I am going to get 100 points for me and that is what coaches really like about him"

Nick Petrecki - Defense, 19 (1st Round 28th overall 2007)
Currently with Boston College (NCAA)
A big fast skating defenseman that likes to play rough is the easiest way to describe Petrecki, but he may have the potential to be better. He has the size and strength at 6 foot 3 and 215 pounds to control the front of the net in the NHL and is hard to beat along the boards with his competitive and aggressive nature. What is most impressive is his power to weight ratio which is off the charts from working with his father as a masonry haling bricks around all day. His work ethic and strong family background has given him the personal accountability to develop into a solid pro for a decade or more. Is a pretty good skater for a defenseman and has improved his agility and two-step quickness to handle smaller quick forwards at the college level.

In the defensive zone he is as solid as you can get and shuts down oppositions top lines. He can be a too overaggressive sometimes which can get himself into trouble with penalties and being out of position. He is an above passer with decent puck skills. He slapshot has power and must be in the 90's and he keeps it low forwards to tip. He decision making at times along with his hockey sense vs. aggressive nature are the concerns. He has racked up some impressive penalty minute totals with 287 pims in 107 games while in the USHL and 102 pims in 42 games as a freshman last season.

He is not expected to produce or start much offensive from the blueline but what he can do is intimidate and scare the oppositions with devastating body checks. One thing is for certain forwards will not like to play against him ever as he will make them pay a price even if it cost him a penalty once in a while. It is not surprise Bryan Marchment who is a member of the Sharks scouting and player development staff loves how this kid plays. He should be a lock for the USA WJC this Christmas in Ottawa where they need him to counter the lager skilled forwards.

Jamie MCGinn- Left Wing, 20 (2nd round 34th overall 2006)
Currently with Worchester/San Jose (AHL/NHL)
Does not possess big league size at 5 foot 11 and 185 pounds but competes and finds a way to get the job done. In 243 games with the Ottawa 67's he produced 226 points and tallied 251 penalty minutes. He has a knack for scoring short handed goals and his keen hockey sense allows him to see developing plays and make a jump on the puck carrier. The good thing is he is tenacious and plays a tough greasy game but he will need to get stronger and work on every aspect of his game. He has a sneaky right handed shot that comes off his stick quickly and his two step quickness allows him to beat players to loose pucks and create separation when defenders are close. Comes from a good program and is well coached. He got a small taste of the AHL and pro hockey at the end of the last year which helped him adjust to pro hockey this year. He played only 6 games in the AHL posting 4 goals and 1 assist before getting called up to the NHL. He has not looked out of place so far in the NHL but it remains to be seen whether he will finish the season or be sent down for further development. He should develop into a solid top nine forward in the NHL in the next year or two.

Lukas Kaspar - Left Wing, 23 (1st round 22nd overall 2004)
Currently with Worchester (AHL)
The skilled winger with the crazy hair did not quite lived up to expectations over the past two seasons especially. His offensive numbers were decent for a rookie as he put up 36 points in 76 games in the AHL 2005-2006 season. The Sharks were hoping with patience that another year or two in the AHL on the top two lines would allow him to work on his consistency and defensive game but it just has not happened. Over the past two seasons he has only picked up 81 points in 151 games and has not shown the hockey sense and ability to make offensive plays at a high tempo. He has the size at 6 foot 2 and 200 pounds and the foot speed to compete at the NHL level he just needs to round out the rest of his game. To his credit he competes most nights and is not a pushover tallying 196 penalty minutes over the past three seasons. Could he develop into a role player at the NHL is a serious question, but he is quickly turning into an AHL journeyman and will be off the prospects list very soon.

Mike Morris - Right Wing, 25 (1st round 27th overall 2002)
Currently with Worchester (AHL)
The only reason Mike Morris is on this list as a 25 year old is due to injury and time missed otherwise he would have been gone after his 23rd birthday. After a frustrating season in 2005-06 where he missed the entire year due to injury at Northeastern University, Morris has been looking to rebound. On top of that he only played 9 games last year in the AHL due to injury which has compounded the problem. At 6 foot 1 and 185 pounds he might want to add a little more strength and weight to his frame so he does not wear down as the season progresses. He has shown good hockey sense and vision with some ability to put the puck in the net. He has shown some versatility by playing some center this year instead of on the wing. He has continued to have injury problems and has disrupted his development. He is an unknown factor to a degree until he plays a full season in the AHL to determine his potential. So far he has 8 points in 9 games this season in the AHL so everyone in the Sharks organization is holding their breath.

Thomas Greiss - Goalie, 22 - (3rd round 94th overall 2004)
Currently with Worchester (AHL)
The German netminder has left his homeland in 2006 -2007 after a excellent season Kolner Haie to start his career in North America. In his rookie season his development has slowed as he adjusts to the speed and angles of the North American game. He has shown athleticism and good lateral movement and decent overall technique. He anticipates the play well but could be more patient and having a goalie consultant will work out any bad habits. Over his past two seasons he has played 84 games with a record of 44-33-7 with a GAA of 2.84 and .902 save percentage which are respectable numbers. His inconsistencies are the main reason his save percentage is not higher and he has no shutouts and he has not established whether he can carry a team or become a NHL caliber netminder yet. At 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds he has decent size so he just needs another year or two year in the minors to work out his game.

Tyson Sexsmith - Goalie, 19 (3rd round 91st overall 2007)
Currently with Vancouver (WHL)
A solid 6 foot 0 and 210 pound netminder who shows poise and composure on fire with big game presence. Has good fundamentals in his movement around the crease and generally keeps a compact frame. Has good vision and can track pucks in traffic. Is a solid skater and has quick feet with good recovery and gives himself a chance to make every save. Shows a quick glove hand and uses his blocker well and directs pucks well with his stick. Sometimes loses his focus and can let in soft goals and tends to play to far back in his crease when things are not going well. He has had two good regular seasons averaging 1.83 GAA and a .913 save percentage along with an impressive 84-23-16 record as a starter. Had a great playoff run in 2006-2007 winning the Memorial Cup. An invite to the Canada WJC camp was another good experience for this young goaltender with potential to make the team. He could be a solid pro due to his work ethic and dedication to his craft.

Alex Stalock - Goalie, 21 (4th round 120th overall 2005) Currently with Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
The 6 foot 0 and 185 pound netminder rebounded well from a tough freshman season where he went from a 3.31 GAA and a .881 SV% to 2.35 GAA and .914 SV% in his sophomore year. He showed better poise and confidence in his sophomore season and remained in position and a compact frame consistently. Once he started from the right position he made saves easier and with less effort and less recovery time. Is an excellent skater which helps him get out to loose pucks and scramble if needed and is above average in his puck handling skills. So far this season he seems to have continued where he left off last season and shown improvement in his rebound control and tracking the puck trough traffic. He should play all four years at Minnesota-Duluth as there is no need to rush his development especially with the log jam of goalies in the system.

Timo Pielmeier - Goalie, 19 (3rd round 83rd overall 2007)
Currently with Shawinigan (QMJHL)
The German native is in his second season in the QMJHL and has perhaps surprised many with his solid performance and quick adjustment to the North American game. Now the game in Germany is not entirely different but the change of speed and the angles usually make things difficult for goalies coming over. A lanky and thin goalie at 6 foot 0 and 165 pounds that will need to add some muscle and strength to his frame to reduce injury and fatigue. Once the body goes the concentration and focus usually follows so long term that will have to be addressed. Fortunately despite his lack of girth he does not leave much space and remains in a compact frame and uses his angles well while being aggressive at the appropriate time. Shows good quickness and lateral movement with surprising rebound control for a young netminder. Flashes a quick glove hand and has been improving his work on the blocker side. His statistics were solid last year with the St. John's Fog Devils sporting a 23-22-4 record with a 3.00 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. Now after changing teams this season he has exploded early on with .932 save percentage over 13 games and he will be watched closely to see if he can maintain it. If the Sharks are patient with him and he does not get lost in the system he could be a future pro goalie for them one day but at what level is still uncertain.

Justin Daniels - Center, 19 (3rd round 62nd overall 2008)
Currently with Sioux City (USHL)
A lanky pivot at 6 foot 2 and 175 pounds that has not quite filled out his frame yet but looks to have some surprising upside. The Sharks also drafted his twin brother Drew a right winger in the 7th round so if some luck is on San Jose's side they could have a brother combination. Shows some decent hockey sense and the ability to use his options in the passing game and seems to have the pucks skills to create time and space for himself and his linemates. He skates well and his stride and that extra gear that every player needs should develop as he gets stronger. He displays a good work ethic but needs to be a little more selfish with the puck and shoot more often. Is committed to Northeastern University next season so hopefully has better luck than Mike Morris. Is a longer term project and it will be interesting to see how he develops in a tougher more competitive league next year.

Harri Sateri - Goalie, 18 (4th round 106th overall 2008)
Currently with Tampere (Finland)
One of the most likely regarded goaltenders in last years draft dropped to the fourth round and could end up being a steal for the Sharks one day. He will be a fan and broadcast announcer favorite due to his name and style. He has good size at 6 foot 1 and 190 pounds with the quickness to cover the net especially down low. Shows good overall mechanics and remains in a compact frame in the crease setting up for the shot fairly quickly. Shows a bit of flair for the dramatic when making a save and sometimes should just make the save. Like all young goalies he needs to work on his rebound control and consistency but the talent is there. Does not have a great glove hand but he shows pretty good eye hand coordination when catching the puck or deflecting pucks with his blocker. So far early in this season he has elevated his game to another level and working with the pros should help push his development faster along than his peer group. Is in no rush to come over to North America due to the number of netminders in the system.

Taylor Dakers - Goalie, 22 (5th round 140th overall 2005)
Currently with Worchester (AHL)
Although he has not played many games in the WHL over his three seasons with 89 appearances his statistics are quite respectable. He posted 49 wins, 32 losses, and 3 ties along 13 shutouts and a solid .915 save percentage. He is lanky at 6 foot 2 and 170 pounds but he can manage to leave the shooter very little space. He has decent fundamentals and cuts off the angles and remains square. In his rookie pro season he has split time between Worchester in the AHL and Phoenix in the ECHL. He needs time to adjust to the speed of the AHL with some time in the ECHL to get back to the basics and gain confidence. He should get more playing time next season in the AHL once Tomas Greiss moves up to the NHL and the consistency should help his confidence. Has yet to show he can play at the AHL with consistency and the remaining group of goaltenders is going to push him out if he does not have a solid season. Most likely will be a journeyman AHL goalie at this stage of his development.

San Jose Sharks - NHL Entry Draft Record (1997 - 2003)

When looking at the drafting and developing record of a NHL organization it becomes an interesting blend of statistics and circumstances with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure. Most of the time the General Manager receives kudos for a teams fortunes at the draft table when in reality it is usually never the case in today's NHL. For the most part there are three aspects that make the whole process work; first is the amateur scouting department's ability to evaluate and project talent which may be the most challenging of all. Next the organizations player development department must attempt to mold the prospects by giving the players tools to enhance his talents. Perhaps most importantly is the prospects responsibility to pay the price and sacrifice which generally requires a tremendous work ethic. If one of these aspects fails then the likelihood of a prospect turning into an asset to his organization and having a NHL career becomes remote.

The reason for the analyzing the years from 1997 to 2003 is to first give each NHL organization five years to develop their prospects as players from different leagues evolve differently. Secondly the years from 1997-2003 are the players that should be the building blocks of the core of your team as they will be in the 23-29 year old age range. What makes each organization unique is what they do with the picks they have as management will often trade draft choices for immediate help on their NHL and AHL teams. Now some players may be real late bloomers and eventually make the criteria set in this analysis down the road but at this stage it is fascinating to see the results such as Ryan Clowe.

Criteria of NHL games played that deem a player has been drafted and developed successfully

  Forwards - Defenseman Goaltenders
1997-2001 125-200 NHL Games required 51-100 NHL Games Played
2002-2003 100 NHL Games required 25-50 NHL Games Played
Pending Player - Represents a player who has a legitimate chance to make criteria

San Jose Sharks Prospects 1997-2003

Year Draft Picks NHL Players Produced (Round/Pick)
1997 7 (C) Patrick Marleau (1/2), (D) Scott Hannan (1/23), and (C) Mark Smith (9/219)
1998 9 (C) Brad Stuart (1/3), (RW) Jonathan Cheechoo (2/29), (D) Rob Davison (4/98), Mikhail Samuelsson (5/145)
1999 7 (D) Jeff Jillson (1/14), (LW) Niko Dimitrakos (5/155), (D) Doug Murray (8/241)
2000 7 None
2001 6 (C) Marcel Goc (1/20), (D) Christian Ehrhoff (4/106), (LW) Ryan Clowe (6/175), Pending - (LW/C) Tomas Plihal (5/140) 35gp
2002 7 None
2003 11 (LW) Milan Michalek (1/6), (RW) Steve Bernier (1/16), (D) Matt Carle (2/47), (C) Joe Pavelski (7/205)

Total: 7yrs - 54 draft picks - 17 NHL Players = 31.5% success rate

Success in the first three rounds (1997-2003)

1st rnd Draft Choices: 8 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects - Mike Morris 2002 (1/27)
7yrs -8 draft picks - 7 NHL Players = 87.5% success rate

2nd rnd Draft Choices: 5 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects - Tero Maatta, Dan Spang, Josh Hennessy
7yrs -5 draft picks - 2 NHL Players = 40.0% success rate

3rd rnd Choices: 3 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects - Eric LaPlante, Mark Concannon, Jonas Fielder
7yrs -3 draft picks - 0 NHL Players = 0.0% success rate

Total: 7yrs -16 draft picks - 9 NHL Players = 56.3% success rate in first 3 rounds

First Three Rounds - Developed vs. Prospects/NA vs. Euro
Developed players: (11) North American, (6) European
Undeveloped Prospects: (6) North American, (1) European

Success in the last six rounds (1997-2003)

4th rnd to 9th rnd Choices: 38 total picks
7yrs - 38 draft picks - 8 NHL Players = 21.0% success rate

Shane Malloy provides hockey prospect insight and analysis on his Prospect Insider feature on TSN.ca, Canada's leading sports website. Many sports networks, hockey magazines and major newspapers have drawn upon his expertise and knowledge. His passion for the game and involvement in grass roots hockey from the junior hockey to the National Hockey League is evident. He is currently a host and hockey event reporter on XM Sirius Satellite Radio (Home Ice 204) where he co-hosts a hockey radio show on Hockey Prospects and the Business of Hockey.

Prior to joining TSN, Malloy was the columnist-covering prospects for NHL.com for two years and a NHL and prospect columnist Fox Sports.com for six years.

This document is the intellectual property of Shane Malloy and cannot be used or duplicated in anyway without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Shane Malloy will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.