The 31-in-31 Offseason Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up, the December 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs until the season begins!
When the NHL decided to suspend play on March 12, the San Jose faithful were unaware that they would not see the Sharks on the ice again in 2020. After a disappointing regular season, the Sharks were one of seven teams that were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and therefore were not invited into the bubble. This marks only the seventh time in the franchise’s 28 year history in the league that the team has missed the playoffs. Needless to say, fans and players alike were left with a very bitter taste in their mouths. Now, with rumors swirling around return to play in January, Sharks fans are “chomping” at the bit to see their team in action again.
The off-season departure of fan-favorite veteran, Joe Thornton, for the bright lights of Toronto should be enough to indicate that the Sharks aren’t planning on competing for the cup next season. But what exactly have they got planned? Let’s recap the Sharks 2020 draft class to get an idea of what they have up their sleeve.
The Sharks entered the draft with seven picks but walked away making nine selections thanks to some crafty pick trading. Unfortunately for fans, the No. 3 overall picks used to select Tim Stutzle was no longer owned by the Sharks, as it was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a deal that brought in Erik Karlsson. Nevertheless, San Jose still had a first-round pick they acquired from Tampa Bay in a deal that sent Barclay Goodrow to the Lightning.
31st Overall, Round 1: Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW
In a touching moment, Sharks’ director of amateur scouting, Doug Wilson Jr., used ASL (American Sign Language) to spell out Ozzy’s name and select him 31st overall. Wiesblatt’s mother, Kim, has been deaf since birth and has taught and used ASL with all five of her children. Heartfelt moment aside, let’s talk hockey!
Ozzy is known best for his playmaking abilities and never say die attitude. The 5-foot-10 winger buzzes around the ice every single shift, wreaking havoc for opponents and opening up extra ice for his teammates. With 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in 64 games during the shortened 2019-20 season, Wiesblatt ranked 17th in points among all skaters in the WHL. It also made him the highest-scoring draft-eligible player on his team. Certainly, nothing to sneeze at.
Unlike most pint-sized wingers who get drafted, Wiesblatt’s frame isn’t his biggest criticism. He plays the game with such tenacity and determination that many scouts have compared him to successful NHL standouts like Brendan Gallagher. In fact, it’s Ozzy’s shot that hasn’t dazzled many scouts yet. We did see a note-worthy improvement in his goal-scoring numbers during his draft-eligible season, but not enough to consider him a threat as a pro. His focus over the next couple of years should be to improve his release without sacrificing his playmaking abilities. Sometimes a guy’s gotta shoot!
Although some people questioned whether there were bigger talents left on the board at 31st overall, the Sharks made it clear that they were going to address their lack of prospect depth on the wing. Ozzy is young, talented, and determined, which should bode well for his NHL hopes. Expect the Calgary native to spend another year in the WHL before heading to California to join the Barracuda.
38th Overall, Round 2: Thomas Bordeleau, C
As previously mentioned, the Sharks were not shy about swapping some picks to get what they wanted this year. GM, Doug Wilson, sent San Jose’s No. 34 overall over to Buffalo in exchange for the Sabres No. 38 and No. 100 overall picks. The 38th pick was used to draft Thomas Bordeleau out of the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP).
Choo-choo! All aboard the hype train, this kid is for real. Put the puck on this guy’s stick and watch the magic happen. Bordeleau might be labeled as a playmaker, but don’t sleep on his shot. His lightning-quick release makes him a dual-threat and a nightmare to defend. No room to release? No problem. Watch him use his soft hands to send Wisconsin packing in overtime last week.
It’s not hard to see why Bordeleau scored at almost a point-per-game pace and led his U18 team from the USNTDP with 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists). Subsequently, he posted seven goals and 11 assists in 19 games with the USHL team, proving that he’s ready to take his game to the next level.
Bordeleau has committed to play for the University of Michigan this year and will need to focus on improving his strength. He is listed at 5-foot-9 and 179-pounds, which makes it easier for large defenders to knock him off the puck. He is an elusive skater (although not the quickest), but will undoubtedly need to bulk up before he turns pro.
The Sharks may have something big in Thomas Bordeleau who will continue to hone his skills at U of M this year. A few years down the line people may be asking how he fell into the second round.
56th Overall, Round 2: Tristan Robins, RW
Using a pick they acquired from the Washington Capitals, San Jose selected their second WHL winger of the draft, Tristan Robins.
Robins combines a heavy shot with a quick release, keeping goaltenders at any level honest. Despite his small frame, Robins is not a perimeter player. In fact, you can often find him mixing it up in front of the net with larger defenders, or looking for the big hit along the boards.
After a disappointing rookie season in the WHL two years ago, Robins broke out scoring 33 goals and 73 points for the Blades during the 2019-20 season. This ranked him third in scoring among draft-eligible WHL players.
Besides his lack of size, there are very few knocks on the winger. He is the type of player that usually seems to do everything right. The Sharks can feel confident that they drafted a solid player, and with a little determination, we could see him turn into a special talent.
76th Overall, Round 3: Daniil Gushchin, LW
The Sharks packaged the 100th and 126th picks and shipped them to the Oilers in return for Edmonton’s 76th overall picks. This addressed the empty hole in the third round that had some fans concerned. With the pick, San Jose took a young shifty Russian in Daniil Gushchin.
If you like the typical Russian style of play, then Gushchin is your guy. He thrives on the rush and makes highlight-reel dangles night in and night out. He is easily one of the most electrifying players to watch coming out of this year’s draft class. What comes as a pleasant surprise is his excellent play off the puck as well. He channels his strong skating ability into a ferocious backcheck and has even been said to look like a third defenceman sometimes. Gushchin often covers for pinching teammates, remaining up high in the zone, and does not become a liability if the puck gets turned over.
But if it’s sounding like, the young winger is the perfect teammate, think again. Gushchin has often been criticized for his questionable decision making with the puck. That being said, his supporting cast on the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks was not exactly upper-class talent. Daniil plans to take his talents to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs this season, which will give us a much clearer picture of what his ceiling could be. Will his pace of play dictate the game, or will his puck hog mentality get him into trouble? Time will tell.
98th Overall, Round 4: Brandon Coe, RW
After the Sharks’ first four selections were all listed below 6-foot, fans might be wondering where the muscle was going to come from? Well, ask and you shall receive. Brandon Coe has the frame and skill set to be a successful power forward. His ability to drive the play up the ice and carry a heavy work-load was highlighted this year when he averaged almost a point per game on the OHL’s worst team, the North Bay Battalion.
Don’t be fooled by his 6-foot-3 stature though. Coe skates gracefully, using his edges like you might expect a smaller forward to. He balances his speed and skill with the puck on his stick and creates a constant headache for opponents. On top of that, Coe is not afraid to mix it up and get a little nasty anywhere on the ice. When combined with his skill, his fiery game style can elevate his teammates to the next level too. What he needs to do now is try and find some consistency in the way he plays the game. When he’s playing up to his potential he is a downright pest that will drop a hat-trick on you and then face-wash your captain on the same shift. But, all too often, Coe has been caught sleeping and fails to bring the energy night in and night out. Remember how Peter Forsberg got a thousand times better after somebody hit him and woke him up? Similar to that, except without being one of the greatest generational talents the world has ever seen.
Coe is also tasked with playing against the OHL’s top lines, and at times has shown lapses in his defensive judgment. Understandably, it is difficult to be switched on at all times when the rest of your team lacks contributions offensively and defensively, but that is what it will take for Coe to make that next step.
In summary, the Sharks have something to keep an eye on in Brandon Coe. He is big, mean, and can absolutely fly out there. Now that he has been drafted, what remains to be seen is if Coe has the willingness to compete with the league’s best every single night and elevate his game to another plateau.
196th Overall, Round 7: Alex Young, C
Surprise surprise, Doug Wilson was at it again, trading away the 127th overall picks to the New York Rangers for their 196th and 206th overall picks.
The Sharks took a break from selecting wingers for only just a moment, long enough to draft Alex Young, a goal-scoring Centre from the AJHL. The Sharks director of amateur scouting, Doug Wilson Jr., admitted to having his eye on Young for a while now, stating: “We should have drafted Alex Young last year and we’re lucky we got him this year”.
Young loves to score goals, and he happens to be pretty darn good at it too. He does it in such a variety of ways that makes it difficult to put a label on him. A sniper, a grinder? Who cares, the kid’s hockey IQ is really high and he always finds himself in the right position to wire one home.
Alex does as much work with the puck as he does without it on his stick. No matter what, he always seems to be able to find himself in open ice ready to tee one up.
The Sharks believe they selected the best player available in the draft at their current position, and are hopeful to develop Young’s lightning-quick release into something goalies at any level will need to be mindful about.
201th Overall, Round 7: Adam Raska, LW/RW
Back at it again, the Sharks selected another medium-sized winger, highlighting their strategy for the 2020 draft. Adam Raska from the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL managed 13 goals and 8 assists in 35 games last season.
Although not the greatest season as far as production goes, the Sharks saw something a little different in Raska. He is the type of player that does not ever believe he is out of the play. His feet are always moving, buzzing around the ice, and pestering the opposition. He is a great back-checker and has excellent instincts when he acquires the puck.
You can often find him grinding it out along the boards with larger defenders. His smaller frame gives him a low center of gravity and makes it difficult to knock him off the puck.
His hard-nosed attitude makes him a fan and a locker room favorite. He might not have the elite offensive skill, but the Sharks saw it fit to reward his determination and call his name at 201. His focus now should be to hit the gym and put on some more weight. Hopefully, that will translate well into his game-style and produce positive results on the scoresheet. Welcome to San Jose Adam.
206th Overall, Round 7: Linus Oberg, C
With a deep pick at 206, the Sharks selected an over-age prospect, Linus Oberg, out of Sweden. Oberg has shown flashes of brilliance through his career, and last year even earned himself a promotion with Obebro HK from the SuperElit league to the SHL, as well as a spot on the world junior team. His stats after his promotion were not much to get excited about, but if you look at it from a developmental standpoint then there are some real positives to be taken.
Oberg thrives when he uses his physicality along the boards and in front of the net, never shying away from a battle. He loves collecting points from in and around the net by deflecting shots and cleaning up rebounds. His skating may not wow you, but his high-octane effort makes up for that.
Oberg will need to bring his full-throttle attitude into the SHL again this year. Combine that with a half-decent scoring touch and it is not out of the realm of possibility to see him produce more effectively this year. Whether or not he will ever reach the NHL is yet to be determined, but when if he ever does expect him to play a bottom-six role.
210th Overall, Round 7: Timofey Spitserov, RW
With their final selection of the 2020 draft, the Sharks selected Russian winger Timofey Spitserov.
The book is unclear on this guy as he spent the season playing for a prep team that did not fare too well against other high-end programs. Spitserov was a bright spot on the team though, scoring 76 points in 40 games, while his next closest teammate only produced 46 points. A bit of a one-man-army to say the least. He has crossed the pond and committed to UMass, so hopefully, the scouting report on the youngster will become more clear soon. It may be a shot in the dark, but it sounds like with some refinement there might be something here.
The Sharks entered the 2020 draft with the intention of addressing their lack of prospect depth on the wings. They had a game plan and they stuck to it, only diverting to select centremen they believed were too juicy to pass up (Bordeleau, Young, Oberg). They left the draft with nine new forwards and not a single defenceman. Thankfully, their prospect pool is deepest on the backend right now and needed less attention.
So, where do they go from here? Stay tuned for next month’s edition of 31-in-31 where we will dive deeper into development camp, off-season moves, team overview, and fantasy projections for all your San Jose Sharks.
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