Thanks for joining us for our July 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at how each team fared in the NHL Entry Draft, as well as checking in on incoming/outgoing prospects and Development Camp notes. Check back every day for a new team profile, and next month when we begin the August 31-in-31 series diving more into prospect depth charts.
“Dealin” Doug Wilson lived up to his nickname during the 2018 NHL entry draft. The Sharks entered the draft without a second or a third round pick, however they did hold two picks in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds thanks to the trade that sent Mike Hoffman to Florida and the Brandon Bollig trade with Nashville earlier in the year. The Sharks selected perhaps the most polarizing prospect in the draft, defenseman Ryan Merkley in the first round. The Sharks then used their picks to trade up twice during the later rounds of the draft, moving the 114th and the 145th pick to select Swedish center Linus Karlsson in the third round. Next dealing the 123rd and 139th pick to move up in the fourth round and select Jasper Weatherby, a center from the BCHL. They used their remaining two sixth round picks to select Zachary Emond, a goaltender from the QMJHL and John Leonard a forward from the NCAA.
The analytics side never looks favourably on packaging picks to move up in the later rounds of the draft, the idea being that all players at that point are a long shot so it’s better to have more kicks at the can than it is to move up a few spots. These moves do however show that Wilson has a great deal of trust in his scouting staff. It also shows that the Sharks’ scouting staff thought highly enough of Karlsson and Weatherby that they were willing to take a risk by moving up to select them.
Round 1, 21st overall: Ryan Merkley (D)
As I mentioned earlier Merkley is perhaps the most polarizing player in this draft, some thought he should have been a high first rounder, some had him as a second rounder and there were even reports that several teams had him on a “do not draft” list. One thing is certain, his upside is sky high. The real question is can he get there. Merkley put up 67 points in 63 games with the Guelph storm of the OHL, impressive numbers for a defenseman. He also looks completely disinterested in playing defense at times, which could obviously hold him back from even landing an NHL job. The Sharks do have a strong leadership group in place and they’ll be hoping that group can help Merkley mature.
Round 3, 87th overall: Linus Karlsson (C)
Linus Karlsson is a Swedish center that spent most of this season playing for Karlskrona in the SuperElit league, Sweden’s highest level junior league. He also got into a handful of games in the SHL, also for Karlskrona. He only managed a single point in the SHL, however it’s common practice for teenagers to get very little ice time there. Karlsson is a goal scorer that can play a two way game and while he’s not huge, his frame projects well at 6-1 and 187 lbs. Karlsson will likely play in the Allsvenskan next season as his SHL team was relegated. While it would be nice to see how he stacks up against the best players in Sweden, he should get much more ice time next year in the Allsvenskan and we’ll find out sooner than later if the Sharks got themselves a third round steal.
Round 4, 102nd overall: Jasper Weatherby (C)
Jasper Weatherby is a big centerman from the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. Much like Karlsson, Weatherby dominated a league in which he should dominate so we’ll have to wait until next season to really see what he can do. Weatherby is committed to the University of North Dakota, a great NCAA program known for producing NHL talent which likely factored into the Sharks decision to draft him. Weatherby is a beast at 6-4 and 216 lbs and has enough offensive ability to post 74 points in 58 BCHL games. His numbers have to come along with the caveat that he is 20 years old and playing against teenagers, however they are good none the less. We’ll find out if Weatherby is just a late bloomer when he tests himself against higher caliber players.
Round 6, 176th overall: Zachary Emond (G)
Zachary Emond is a bit of a puzzling pick just because he isn’t actually the starting goalie on his junior team and may not even get that chance next season. Emond plays for the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, he put up a .897 sv% in just 24 games. Not very promising but it is a small sample size. For context the starter, Samuel Harvey, posted a .930 sv% in 46 games. Harvey was invited to Montreal’s camp however he hasn’t earned a contract, so for now it looks as though Harvey will return to the Huskies for his overage season. This isn’t good news for Emond who will be stuck once again in a backup role.
Round 6, 182nd overall: John Leonard (LW)
John Leonard is just the type of player I like to see teams take a swing on in the late rounds of the draft. An over-ager at 19 years old, its possible Leonard was overlooked the first time around due to playing in the USHL, another league that can be tough to scout. His NCAA numbers are really good, he posted 28 points in 33 games and lead UMass in scoring, not bad for a freshman season. Leonard is still a longshot, like all sixth round picks, but he at least has good upside and a higher ceiling than others drafted near him.
Development Camp Roster/Notes
The undrafted invitees to this camp were: Kyle Topping (C), Max Paddock (G), Kohen Olischefski (RW), Ty Pelton-Byce (C), Bo Hanson (D), Tristan Mullin (LW), Justin Brazeau (RW), Keaton Middleton (D), Thomas Gregoire (D), Joe Gatenby (D), Jake Gricius (C)
I don’t live in San Jose and unfortunately the Sharks chose not to stream their prospect camp (get on this Sharks media people) so I didn’t get to watch much other than the few tidbits the Sharks offered up on social media. Doesn’t sound like any big revelations came out of camp, although a few of the undrafted invitees played well and earned themselves another look. All of the Sharks top prospects attended including Ryan Merkley, who signed his three year entry-level deal shortly after camp. Don’t expect to see him in San Jose anytime soon however as he’ll head back to the OHL for now.
Vladislav Kotkov was good enough to earn himself a contract, he had already attended Colorado’s rookie camp and was scheduled to attend their main camp but the Sharks chose to take him off the market.
Invitee and Regina Pats goaltender Max Paddock played well during camp, he looks like he’s probably better than some of the Sharks current goalie prospects. He hasn’t earned a contract yet but there’s still time so keep an eye out.
After missing out on the big fish in John Tavares, the Sharks biggest offseason moves have been cleaning up their own house and re-signing key players, that and of course buying low and selling high on Mike Hoffman.
Evander Kane, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Thomas Hertl, Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo all signed extensions this summer. They do have a number of vets vacating bottom-six roles opening up some space for prospects, although they will return with last year’s top six intact.
Jannik Hansen (LW)
Joel Ward (RW)
Eric Fehr (C)
Mikael Boedker (LW)
Adam Helewka (LW)
Paul Martin (D)
Julius Bergman (D)
Vincent Praplan (RW)
Antti Suomela (C)
Lukas Radil (LW)
Look for Joakim Ryan to start the year on the number one defense pairing alongside Brent Burns, he played well in that spot last season at times including in the playoffs. His fantasy value is limited unless he can get some power play time, but he could be a decent buy low option just by virtue of that sweet spot in the line-up.
The trio of European veteran free agent additions Lukas Radil, Antti Suomela and Vincent Praplan will battle it out with Sorensen, Gambrell, Letunov, Goodrow and Balcers for two spots in the bottom-six and the extra skater spots. If I were a betting man (I am) I’d bet on Sorensen taking one spot on the fourth line and Suomela taking that fourth line center position. It’s a close one though and any of those players could realistically find themselves in the opening night line-up.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in August for a closer look at the Sharks depth chart and off-season moves.
Follow me on twitter at @Legg06 for more on Sharks prospects!