July 32-in-32: San Jose Sharks

Donesh Mazloum

2023-07-24


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The 32-in-32 Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in July 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 in August, we 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 all off-season long!

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The Sharks continued down the path of a full rebuild, saying goodbye to their top offensive forward and best bargaining chip, Timo Meier, at the deadline in exchange for a haul of picks and prospects to further bolster the future.

While they are clearly fully committed to the rebuild, they are further behind than most of their peers at the bottom. There will be major growing pains moving forward and a focus on maximizing their draft selection is a must for them to return to their winning ways. 

The Draft

Round One, 4th Overall – William Smith, C

While history will tell if passing on the enigmatic and mystery-shrouded Matvei Michkov will be a mistake, Will Smith is no slouch and is the type of high-skill player that you need to gamble on to build a top six that can compete in today’s NHL. With 66 goals and 169 points in 80 games for the USNTDP U18 team, Smith put up gaudy numbers on the best line in junior hockey with Ryan Leonard and Gabe Perreault and will join those two at Boston College as he continues his development. His mixtape-worthy handles and nose for the net should translate seamlessly but he will need to continue to improve his skating to be able to consistently gain separation against a bigger and stronger opposition. With the dearth of talent at the NHL level for the Sharks, they will have to fight the urge to rush him to the NHL ranks so that he can continue to round out his game at the collegiate level.

Round One, 26th Overall – Quentin Musty, LW

With one of the picks acquired in the Timo Meier trade, the Sharks selected Quentin Musty from the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves at the back end of the first round. With 26 goals and 78 points in 53 games, Musty was one of the most prolific draft-eligible players in the OHL this season and his improvement throughout the season was noticeable. This is solid value for a player like Musty and speaks to the depth of this draft. Musty possesses a large frame and he should be able to handle the physicality of the NHL game with relative ease. However, it is his understated skill and vision that really drive his worth as a prospect. He has a knack for turning offensive zone time into opportunities and shows finesse in his puck movement. He will need to develop more consistency from shift to shift and work on his footspeed, but the Sharks have found another high-ceiling player in the back end of the first round.

Round Two, 36th Overall – Kasper Halttunen, RW

With their third pick in the top 36, the Sharks went overseas and selected big Finnish goalscoring winger Kasper Halttunen.

Halttunen entered the year as a potential top ten pick. However, his production never took off in the Liiga, as he finished with only one point in 27 games. His tumble out of the first round entirely likely has to do with concerns in his play-reading ability. He seemed to struggle to keep up to the pace of play at times in the European pro ranks.

Despite his relative struggles this season, there is a lot to like about his game and he seems like a worthwhile gamble at this slot. At 6-3, 216 lbs with a plus shot and nose for the net, there is plenty of runway to mold him into a top-six goal-scoring winger with developments on the mental side of the game. His 18 goals in 18 U20 games speaks to his capacity as a goal scorer and while his game hasn’t developed linearly, the Sharks are in no rush for him to make an impact.

Round Three, 71st Overall – Brandon Svoboda, C

After taking high-ceiling forwards with their first three picks, the Sharks made a move to shore up the bottom six with their selection of Brandon Svoboda in the third round.

Svoboda is a big, physical, prototypical power forward who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around and make life miserable for the opposition. His wide stride and strong lower body make him difficult to strip of possession however he isn’t the most creative player with the puck on his stick and struggles to problem solve for dangerous opportunities. 

With only 26 points in 59 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, Svoboda likely won’t ever be a point producer at the NHL level but he could provide value as a crash-and-bang energy player who can be a penalty killing asset.

Round Four, 123rd Overall – Luca Cagnoni, D

One of the best value picks in the entire draft in my eyes, the Sharks got a steal with Portland Winterhawk defenceman Luca Cagnoni in the fourth round. 

The knock on Cagnoni is his small stature as there are not many 5-9 defenders in the NHL, but he has the tools to make up for his limited size. He is a great blend of intelligence and intensity with high level execution in all areas on the ice. It leads to a very tidy and professional package, and he was leaned on in a big way by the Winterhawks coaching staff. He scored a tidy 17 goals and 64 points in 67 games and routinely logged 30 minutes a night in important contests. He will certainly need to increase his strength but he’s already a fairly stocky 185 lbs and I don’t think he’s going to get pushed around even at the pro level. 

I think he shares many similarities to the Sharks 2nd round selection in last year’s draft, Mattias Havelid and with those two in tow he Sharks now boast two of the more underrated offensive defenceman prospects in the league.

Round Five, 130th Overall – Axel Landen, D

In the fifth round, the Sharks went back to Europe in selecting defenceman Axel Landen out of Sweden.

Landen is an aggressive and physical defender who likes to stay in the thick of the action. His willingness to probe anywhere on the ice makes him a surprising goal scoring asset as he likes to sneak behind coverage on the far side. He is certainly a long-term project as he has a ton of work to do in bundling his tools into a cohesive game that you can trust. His decision making leaves a lot to be desire and he doesn’t have great playmaking instincts. He collected 10 goals and 16 points in 44 games at the J20 level which is by no means prolific and a defenceman with more goals that assists is sure to raise some eyebrows.

With ideal development, his disruptive and in your face brand of hockey could be useful on a bottom pairing but there is significant work to do to get there. 

Round Five, 132nd Overall – Eric Pohlkamp, D

With their second pick in the fifth round, the Sharks went back to the USHL to select USHL defenceman of the year Eric Pohlkamp. 

Pohlkamp, in his second year of draft eligibility had a major glow-up on the offensive side of the puck, jumping from 18 points in his first year in the league to 51 this season which led all defencemen in the USHL. 

Pohlkamp is an undersized yet stocky player who throws his weight around on the defensive end and plays with an in-your-face style that makes it tough to get throw the neutral zone cleanly. Offensively, his best weapon is a heavy shot from the point that he loves to unleash. There are still some questions about his ability to translate and find a niche at the pro level but he’s a worthwhile gamble this late in the draft.

Round Seven, 196th Overall – David Klee, C

The Sharks continued their pattern of dipping into the USHL talent pool with their selection of David Klee from the Waterloo Black Hawks.

Klee is another move to potentially add size and strength to a bottom six. He only scored three goals in 57 USHL games and there is little expectation for offence at any level. He’s a long term project with a limited ceiling so it’s tough to get super excited about this prospect but he may develop into a footsoldier over time. 

Round Seven, 203rd Overall – Yegor Rimashevskiy, RW

If Klee was the Sharks bunt attempt in the seventh round, the selection of Rimashevskiy is a home run swing. Likely a faller due to the “Russian factor” and lack of exposure Rimashevskiy put up a solid 26 points in 29 MHL games. 

There’s a high chance he never makes it over to North America, but if he does there is some offensive potential of which he is just scratching the surface.

The Offseason

Incoming

Anthony Duclair (LW), Filip Zadina (RW), Mackenzie Blackwood (G), Ryan Carpenter (C), Kyle Burroughs (D), Givani Smith (RW), Scott Sabourin (RW)

Zadina and Blackwood are solid reclamation projects for a rebuilding team to take a gamble on. The Sharks will be hoping for Zadina especially, to regain some of the shine he once held as a former third overall selection.

Duclair was a low cost top six option that should hopefully lighten the load on offence and shelter prospects like William Eklund from having to run the show before they are truly ready.

Carpenter, Burroughs, Smith, and Sabourin are either depth pieces or minor league options who won’t move the needle drastically.

Outgoing

James Reimer (G), Andrej Sustr (D), Markus Nutuvaara (D), Aaron Dell (G), Andreas Johnsson (W), Evgeni Svechnikov (LW), Noah Gregor (C), Jonah Gadjovich (LW), Derrick Pouliot (D), C.J. Suess (G)

No major losses in the offseason for the Sharks as they did a good job cleaning house and extracting value from trade chips over the course of the year. 

The goaltender depth chart took the biggest hit as the Sharks transition to a younger group.

Re-signed

Fabian Zetterlund (LW), Jacob Peterson (C), Eetu Makiniemi (G)

Zetterlund came over in the Meier trade and was re-signed to a low risk, high reward, two-year contract. Peterson is an underrated depth signing who could show sneaky value if he regains the form he showed in his rookie season in Dallas. Makiniemi got his first cup of coffee in the NHL last season and should take over as the Barracuda’s starting goaltender.

Thanks for reading!

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