August 31-in-31: San Jose Sharks

by Chris on August 24, 2019

 

 

August 31 in 31: San Jose Sharks

 

The Sharks did not have the flashiest off-season, the biggest and most impactful move was the re-signing of Erik Karlsson. At the draft the Sharks were without a first round pick and brought in just five new prospects. There are a fair amount of veteran players departing however, leaving some roster spots up for grabs. GM Doug Wilson has indicated those spots will be filled from within, meaning we will have some exciting competition to look forward to in training camp. 

 

The Sharks have done well in the past filling out their prospect ranks by adding free agents who may have been looked over by other teams. This year is no different as they added several free agent prospects like Danil Yurtaikin, Lean Bergmann and Andrew Shortridge. These types of prospects do not have the flash of a high draft pick, but hitting on these players is key for a team like the Sharks who regularly find themselves in a playoff position.

 

 

Graduating Players

 

Dylan Gambrell

This one isn’t totally a forgone conclusion, however I have Gambrell in my projected NHL lineup so I am going to go out on a limb and call him an NHL player now. He has not blown the doors off at the NHL level, but he can help in the bottom six and he is ready for NHL reps. The AHL is not going to develop Gambrell any further at this point. Turning 23 this month, the time is now for Gambrell’s NHL arrival.  

 

Joachim Blichfeld

Blichfeld collected his fair share of accolades in the WHL last season as an overage player. He posted the most points and was named the WHL player of the year. He has done all that has been asked of him in junior and then some. Now Blichfeld will finally get his chance to transition to pro. He will more than likely get his feet wet in the AHL first but do not sleep on him as a potential call up if he finds his scoring touch quickly.

 

Noah Gregor

Another overage player from the WHL, Gregor will make the transition to pro this year. Like Blichfeld, expect him to start the season on the Barracuda in a top six role. It was a bit of a surprise last season when Gregor was cut from the Barracuda and returned to junior. This time around he is a more mature player and sports a more rounded game. He has developed nicely with the WHL’s best team, the Prince Albert Raiders. It is tough to gauge a prospect when they are playing against younger competition and opinions are all over the map on Gregor, but there is no doubt his stock has improved since he was drafted by the Sharks back in 2016.

 

Ivan Chekhovich

The 20-year-old Russian lit up the QMJHL last season to the tune of 105 points in 66 games. Perhaps more encouraging though is how well Chekhovich has done when given a little taste of the next level. During ATO stints with the Barracuda over the past two seasons he has posted 13 points over 11 games. He has also played well enough in NHL pre-season action to make some wonder if he would make the team early. Chekhovich makes the move to pro this season and as long as he can find and maintain consistency in his game, he will be in the NHL before long.

 

Sasha Chmelevski

Chmelevski wraps up an excellent OHL career and joins the pro ranks this year. He is probably the most likely Sharks prospect to make the jump straight to the NHL. There are some spots up for grabs in the Sharks top twelve and Chmelevski has the skill and versatility to play anywhere in the lineup. That being said, the Sharks take the slow burn approach with their prospects and may want him to get some AHL seasoning first. Either way, he remains atop the prospect depth chart at the forward position.

 

Mario Ferraro

Ferraro wraps up his college career and will join the Barracuda this season. Ironically, he may have an easier path to more PP ice time with the Barracuda than he did last season with UMass. Now that he is out of the large shadow cast by Cale Makar, Ferraro should get a chance to show what he can do. He is well suited to playing an offensive game and will thrive with some PP time. Ferraro is still on the path to becoming an NHL player, but he will marinate in the AHL for a season or two.

 

Jacob McGrew

McGrew should be joining the Barracuda this year, although it is possible he is returned to junior as an over-ager similar to Gregor and Blichfeld last season. McGrew lost the entire 2015-2016 season to injury and it still feels like his development has not quite recovered. Although he shows well in flashes, there just is not enough there to make me believe he has an NHL future. Competition will be stiff for forward positions on the Barracuda this season so it is anyone’s guess whether or not McGrew makes the team. It certainly looks like the odds are stacked against him.

 

 

Risers

 

Josef Korenar

Korenar’s first AHL season was an outstanding success. The Czech goaltender suited up for 34 games and posted a 2.54 GAA and a .911 SV%. For a 21-year-old goaltender in his first pro season this was a great start. Another good reason to have a goaltender on the list of risers is the possible opportunity shaping up on the big club. Goaltending was not a strong point for the Sharks last season and they could be looking to shake things up. Starter Martin Jones is likely safe but Aaron Dell is certainly less so. If the Sharks decide they want to try something new, Korenar has likely jumped Bibeau as the next in line. At his age there is still lots of room for growth too. He should at a minimum get the majority of AHL starts this season. 

 

Ivan Chekhovich

Since being drafted in the seventh round back in 2017, Chekhovich has done nothing but score. He posted 43 goals last season and nearly made it to the two points per game mark. As mentioned above in reference to Noah Gregor, it can be tough to properly gauge a prospect when they are older than most of their peers. However with Chekhovich, the goal scoring ability sets him apart. Chekhovich has shown well in the chances he has had against tougher competition and questions about consistency have faded somewhat. He looks like a player who can rise to the occasion when challenged.

 

Vladislav Kotkov

Kotkov was signed as a free agent by the Sharks prior to the 2018-2019 season. The contract has paid off as the big Russian forward potted 34 goals, a marked improvement from his 21 goals the season prior. It’s not just the totals that make Kotkov an intriguing prospect, but also his size. He has a projectable NHL frame already at 6-4 and 209 pounds. While I do not normally put a lot of stock into size, it is something the current crop of Sharks prospects (at least the ones closest to being NHL ready) are lacking. Kotkov will be a prospect to watch going forward with one more year of junior eligibility he should make the jump to pro in 2020.

 

 

Fallers

 

Jonathan Dahlen

The biggest prospect on the list of fallers is Dahlen. He recently signed a contract with Timra in the Allsvenskan. Dahlen previously helped get Timra into the SHL, however the team was relegated back to the Allsvenskan since. If it seems to you like Dahlen is forgoing a chance at an NHL career for personal reasons, well, you would not be alone. That is his decision to make, however as a prospect this is a huge red flag and we have to downgrade Dahlen from a potential star NHL player to a player whose NHL chances are looking pretty slim. It seems the Canucks saw this coming when they traded Dahlen to the Sharks and reports have floated around that Dahlen has not been happy with the opportunities he has received in North America with either club.

 

Maxim Letunov

Letunov is beginning to look like one of those prospects with a tantalizing skill set, who just does not quite reach his full potential. You can always hold out hope for a late bloomer but given everything we know about aging curves in the NHL, the 23-year-old is not likely to develop much more than he already has. His first full AHL season saw him post just 28 points in 57 games as he struggled to find his place with the Barracuda. Things will not get any easier this year with the influx of potential top six talent at the AHL level. It is possible Letunov gets pushed out altogether.

 

Jasper Weatherby

The Sharks took a risk on drafting Weatherby out of the BCHL, which at the time did not seem like a bad risk to take. However, this one already does not appear to be panning out. Weatherby managed just five points in his first NCAA season and did not earn much ice time with UND. That being said he does have three more years to develop in the NCAA, but early returns are not encouraging.

 

 

Depth Chart

 

Left Wing

Ivan Chekhovich, AHL

Jayden Halbgewachs, AHL

Vladislav Kotkov, QMJHL

Jonathan Dahlen, Allsvenskan

Danil Yurtaikin, AHL

Lean Bergmann, AHL

John Leonard, NCAA

Jeffrey Truchon-Viel, AHL

Dillon Hamaliuk, WHL

 

Center

Dylan Gambrell, NHL 

Antti Suomela, AHL

Noah Gregor, AHL

Joel Kellman, AHL

Alexander True, AHL

Yegor Spiridonov, MHL

Maxim Letunov, AHL

Zach Gallant, AHL

Timur Ibragimov, MHL

Jasper Weatherby, NCAA

Scott Reedy, NCAA

Tim Clifton, AHL

 

Right Wing

Sasha Chmelevski, AHL

Joachim Blichfeld, AHL

Jonny Brodzinski, AHL

Jake McGrew, AHL

Manuel Wiederer, AHL

 

Defense

Ryan Merkley, OHL

Radim Simek, NHL

Mario Ferraro, AHL

Artemi Knyazev, QMJHL

Trevor Carrick, AHL

Jeremy Roy, AHL

Tony Sund, AHL

Nikolai Knyzhov, AHL

Nick DeSimone, AHL

Santeri Hatakka, Liiga

 

Goalie

Josef Korenar, AHL

Andrew Shortridge, AHL

Zachary Emond, QMJHL

Antoine Bibeau, AHL

Mike Robinson, NCAA

 

 

 

Top 20 Prospects

 

  1. Ryan Merkley
  2. Sasha Chmelevski
  3. Dylan Gambrell
  4. Ivan Chekhovich
  5. Josef Korenar
  6. Antti Suomela
  7. Radim Simek
  8. Joachim Blichfeld
  9. Jayden Halbgewachs
  10. Noah Gregor
  11. Mario Ferraro
  12. Vladislav Kotkov
  13. Jonathan Dahlen
  14. Artemi Knyazev
  15. Yegor Spiridonov
  16. Jeremy Roy
  17. Danil Yurtaikin
  18. Andrew Shortridge
  19. Alexander True
  20. Dillon Hamaliuk



Chris Legg