September 32-in-32: San Jose Sharks

Donesh Mazloum

2022-09-26

Welcome to the September 2022 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers, and top-20 prospects. 

It has been a summer of change for the Sharks as they overhauled almost every aspect of the team from the top down. 

Out are Doug Wilson and Bob Bougher, in are Mike Grier as general manager and David Quinn as head coach. Grier was hired two weeks before free agency however hit the ground running signing a slew of low-risk, depth signings to fill out the roster and provide a more competitive environment internally. The Sharks seemingly threw everything at the wall last season when it came to filling out the bottom of the roster and almost nothing stuck. Add in the fact that the Barracuda was the worst team in the AHL by a significant margin, and the new front office made the prudent decision to fill out the NHL roster with proven talent, clean house in the minors, and restart with a more development-minded approach. 

The Sharks have been among the league’s worst for the past three seasons and despite the improvements will likely maintain that status this season. This will be a slow rebuild for the Sharks. They still have a below-average prospect pool both in terms of elite talent and depth. They are also weighed down with numerous long-term albatross contracts. The reality is that it will likely be at least five years down the road when these contracts fall off the books and the prospect pool is overflowing, before the Sharks might return to contender status. 

While Sharks fans should buckle up for the long haul, there are reasons for optimism with the steps taken by the new management team and this year’s Sharks team should be an infinitely more watchable team than last season’s.

There are always surprises at camp however the final Sharks roster will probably consist of some collection of the following players.

Meier-Hertl-Barabanov

Lindblom-Couture-Kunin

Labanc-Sturm-Gregor

Nieto-Bonino-Lorentz

Svechnikov-Weatherby/Reedy-Gadjovich

Bordeleau-Eklund

The top line was one of the few bright spots for the Sharks last season and will likely remain unchanged. Lindblom and Kunin are two acquisitions that will likely be placed in a position to succeed and deliver on the promise both have shown flashes of in their careers. Weatherby, Reedy, and Gadjovich all played significant games with the Sharks last season but are in tough to make the roster with the upgrades brought in. Gadjovich is the only member of the trio who is not waiver exempt so he seems the most likely to join Svechnikov as an extra forward. Eklund and Bordeleau are the Sharks’ best prospects and are knocking on the door however will likely need to bully their way into a scoring role with a strong camp. There is no sense in having them toll away on one of the depth lines.

Megna-Karlsson

Ferraro-Nutivaara

Vlasic-Benning

Simek-Merkley

The defensive battle has fewer contestants than up front and the only real question mark is if Merkley can finally break through and earn permanent NHL status. If not, he is the only one on this list with waiver exemption. 

Reimer

Kahkonen

These two will battle it out for playing time. Regardless of the “victor”, they will probably split the net fairly evenly.

Graduates

Noah Gregor – RW

Despite spending time in the AHL in each of the past three seasons, Gregor has quietly racked up 121 NHL games in his career. He has been a point-per-game player at the AHL level throughout his career and after a 63/8 game NHL/AHL split last season, it is safe to say that Gregor has earned a permanent NHL spot and graduate status. 

While he’s shown the ability to score at lower levels his offence hasn’t and will likely never truly translate to the NHL level. He’s a solid depth piece and brings a lot to the table in his play off of the puck and on the forecheck. He will likely slot in on one of the Sharks’ bottom two lines.

Jonah Gadjovich – LW

Gadjovich is no longer waiver exempt and his time as a prospect has likely come to an end. With how this roster is constructed he likely slots in as an extra forward who can serve spot duty as an injury replacement or injection of physicality when needed.  

In the 2020-21 season, Gadjovich scored 15 goals in 19 AHL games so there may be a glimmer of hope that some of his goalscoring prowess can be developed at the NHL ranks however it will be a tall order for him to work his way into that role due to his sluggish skating and struggles to be mentally proactive.

On The Cusp

Ryan Merkley – D

It feels like Merkley has been “on the cusp” for years but he still hasn’t been able to gain a permanent foothold in the NHL. 

Merkley’s in his draft year profiled as a player with elite offensive upside however with a host of defensive and character deficiencies that needed to be overcome. Merkley has done a relatively good job staying out of the news and adding strength to be more effective defensively, however, his offensive flair has seemingly also been sacrificed. He has done a good job raising his floor as an NHL prospect but his ceiling has lowered in turn.

If Merkley doesn’t crack the Sharks out of camp it would serve him well to blow the doors off the AHL ranks as he will struggle to be trusted to run an NHL powerplay if he can’t show that he’s too good for the minors.

Scott Reedy – C

Of the players who made their NHL debut for the Sharks last season, you could argue that Reedy was the most successful statistically, scoring seven goals and nine points in 35 games. He will also be the highest-scoring forward returning to the Barracuda (18 goals in 38 games) and will be looked at as a leader for their forward’s ranks.  

This is an extremely important season for Reedy to establish himself as one of the first call-up options if he doesn’t make the big club out of camp. He has shown goal-scoring prowess at lower levels however at 23 years of age he is running out of time. With high pedigree talents like Eklund and Bordeleau knocking on the door as well, Reedy is in danger of being passed on the depth chart.

Jasper Weatherby – C

Weatherby’s transition from the college ranks to the NHL went much faster than expected as he made the jump after only 25 AHL games. Weatherby has taken an unorthodox pathway as a late bloomer who was drafted in his third year eligible. It took him three NCAA seasons to figure out how to produce offence at a consistent basis, so the fact that he was immediately able to score 15 points in 25 AHL games and a respectable 11 points in 50 NHL games the following year was one of the most pleasant surprises the Sharks had last season.

Despite playing most of the season with the Sharks last season I do expect him to start in the AHL this year with the reinforcements brought in the offseason. He’ll be on the radar as one of the first injury replacements available. At 6’4 and with the ability to skate and shoot, he can fill in and be serviceable in a variety of roles and positions.

William Eklund – LW

How Eklund will fair and where he will play is one of the more intriguing questions coming into camp for the Sharks. He burst onto the scene last year, making the team out of camp, however, was sent back to Sweden after his nine-game audition and really struggled once back in Europe. He scored only one goal in 29 games for Djurgardens and went backwards in almost every statistical category.

Despite this, Eklund remains the Sharks’ top prospect and boasts a combination of skill and speed that is unmatched in the stable. He needs to prove that he can consistently create on the smaller NHL ice surface and that last year’s struggles were a blip and not a trend. 

The early returns at rookie camp were very promising so he’s carrying momentum into main camp.

Thomas Bordeleau – C

Bordeleau comes into camp in a similar boat to Eklund. He impressed in his cup of coffee with the big club last season however he faces much more competition for playing time this season. The Sharks are experienced down the middle and it would make little sense for him to toll away on a checking line when he could develop his offensive streak at the AHL level. His skill level makes him an ideal candidate to call up should either Hertl or Couture miss time but otherwise, he will likely spend the majority of the year with the Barracuda.

While he would seem to be the longest shot of this grouping of “on the cusp” players I still think he belongs here due to his raw talent level and for the off chance that he sees a position change to the wing. Bordeleau’s limited size will always be a knock against him patrolling the centre-ice position and if he impresses in camp, the wing is certainly a faster pathway to the NHL for him.

Risers

Brandon Coe – RW

Coe had his entire 2020-21 OHL season scrapped due to Covid, however, he was allowed to play games at the AHL level early where scored a modest five points in 17 games. With that experience in tow, Coe returned to the OHL level last year and absolutely torched the league to the tune of 34 goals and 101 points in 62 games. He finished fifth in the entire league in scoring and his 101 points were a full 44 points higher than his previous best season at the OHL level. 

Once the third overall pick in the OHL draft, Coe took some time to get going however is now starting to develop that high-end talent of which he showed potential. At 6-foot-4, 190-pounds with burgeoning confidence in the offensive zone, he is looking like a steal of a fourth-round pick for the Sharks.

Gannon Laroque – D

Laroque was somewhat of a surprise pick in the 4th round of the 2021 NHL entry draft after a meagre seven points in 21 games on one of the worst teams in the WHL. If you squinted you could see a defensive specialist with size and truculence however he seemed a long shot to become an impact player. 

Thankfully for Sharks fans, Laroque spent his entire D+1 season penning a love letter to the Sharks scouts. His offence exploded to the tune of 10 goals and 52 points in 63 games finishing tenth in defenceman scoring while continuing to play his punishing defensive game.

Laroque is already on the shortlist for Team Canada’s 2023 world junior team and even the sourest of detractors must admit that his NHL prognostication has risen drastically.

Fallers

Dillon Hamaliuk – LW

It is never a great sign when a player’s best statistical season in juniors is their draft year and that is the case for Hamaliuk. Pretty quickly he appeared to be a reach in the second round and injuries and inconsistency have only continued to plague him since. He has yet to play an injury-free season at any level and his nine points in 44 AHL games are a far cry from what was expected coming out of his draft year. 

Hamaliuk will likely get a greater role at the AHL level this season however time is running out for him to prove his worth before the Sharks brass begin to look elsewhere. 

Sasha Chmelevski – RW

Everything seemed to align for Chmelevski last season which makes his inability to seize a permanent role all the more frustrating. In 19 games with the Sharks, he produced zero goals and eight assists and when the dust settled this offseason he found himself plying his trade in the KHL. Whether his move to Russia was the organization’s choice, Chmelevski waving the white flag, or some combination of both, his future as an NHL player is now even murkier than before.

The best-case scenario is that he regains his confidence with a strong season for Salavat Yulaev Ufa before returning ready to take advantage of the opportunity but by simple geography, he’s further away from the NHL now than he was a year ago.  

Organizational Depth Chart

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

William Eklund

Thomas Bordeleau

Daniil Gushchin

Adam Raska

Filip Bystedt

Cameron Lund

Jonah Gadjovich

Scott Reedy

Brandon Coe

Dillon Hamaliuk

Jasper Weatherby

Tristen Robins

Liam Gilmartin 

Yegor Spiridonov

Ozzy Wiesblatt

Timur Ibragimov 

Max McCue

Sasha Chmelevski
 

Theo Jacobsson

Ethan Cardwell
 

Alex Young

Joey Muldowney
 

Reese Laubach

Timofei Spitserov

Mitchell Russell

 

Left Defence

Right Defence

Artemi Knyazev

Mattias Havelid

Jake Furlong Ryan Merkley
Santeri Hatakka Michael Fisher
Nick Cicek Gannon Laroque
Artem Guryev Eli Barnett
Evgeni Kashnikov
 
 

 

Goalies

Benjamin Gaudreau 

Strauss Mann

Eetu Makiniemi

Mason Beaupit

Zacharie Emond

Magnus Chrona

Top 20 Fantasy Prospects

This section is intended to paint a picture of the San Jose Sharks prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration. However, a player’s potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list.

  1. William Eklund
  2. Thomas Bordeleau
  3. Mattias Havelid
  4. Ryan Merkley
  5. Filip Bystedt
  6. Daniil Gushchin
  7. Cameron Lund
  8. Brandon Coe
  9. Tristen Robins
  10. Ozzy Wiesblatt
  11. Benjamin Gaudreau
  12. Michael Fisher
  13. Artemi Knyazev
  14. Sasha Chmelevski
  15. Scott Reedy
  16. Strauss Mann
  17. Gannon Laroque
  18. Jake Furlong
  19. Ethan Cardwell
  20. Adam Raska

Thanks for reading!

Donesh Mazloum

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Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
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