Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post SJ Sharks: Future Watch

March 13th, 2010, 10:16 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug
I see the image of a crown and a hungry prairie dog. Is it the future of the Pacific Division or Boy George's weekend plans?

I see the image of a crown and a hungry prairie dog. Is it the future of the Pacific Division or Boy George's weekend plans?

The Hockey News Future Watch 2010 issue arrived in the mail this week and to no surprise, Logan Couture’s name appears on their list of the Top 100 Prospects already drafted by NHL Teams. Couture comes in at #36. As an organization, the Sharks didn’t fare as well as their best prospect, ranking 27th out of 30 NHL clubs with a C grade. This is actually a drop off from last years low rank of 25th.

Honestly, I’m surprised at the low overall grade given the Worcester Sharks overall success this season and the immediate development of some of their younger players in the AHL. Worcester has three young players in the Top 40 in scoring, with Zalewski pulling 57 points in 61 games, followed by Couture’s 54 points in 41 games and Ferriero’s 47 points in 44 games. The only other team with such dynamic AHL scoring is the Washington Capitals trio of Aucion, Giroux and Gordon. If Couture and Ferriero had been in Worcester the whole season and avoided injury, Couture would be projected at 86 points, which would put him 1st in the AHL in scoring. Ferreiro would be at 69 points, 4th in the AHL in scoring. Somehow, Ferreiro doesn’t even make David Pollak’s list of Top 10 Sharks prospects, which I would be curious to get an explanation of.

Pollak lists the Sharks top prospects in this order: Couture, Petrecki, Joslin (really?), Zalewski, Zackrisson, Sexsmith, Wrenn, Doherty, Demers and Groulx. No Ferreiro….and no Alex Stalock.

Stalock has been the rock the Worcester Sharks success has been centered around this season. He is 1st in the AHL in wins and total minutes played and 3rd in total saves, while Sexsmith has struggled all season with a 4-6-1, .860 save percentage and a 3.94 GAA and even earned a trip to the ECHL. I’m not giving up on Sexsmith at all, he had an outstanding junior hockey career with the Vancouver Giants – but does he really deserve to be ranked ahead of Stalock when he’s been totally overwhelmed his first year in the pros, while Stalock has played like a veteran leading a team to a possible Calder Cup?

I was glad to see William Wrenn on this list, he’s definitely a player of interest for the future – the way far away future since he’s in his 1st year at Denver University. I was pleasantly surprised to see Dudes on Hockey posterchild Nick Petrecki holding down the 2nd spot even though reports are he has struggled big time his first season at Worcester.

As for the rest of the Pacific Division, LA’s future continues to look bright – they are the overall #1 Future Watch leader with four players in the Top 100 including Brayden Schenn (#10), Jonathan Bernier (#15), Colten Teubert (#48), and Thomas Hickey (#72). Phoenix is ranked #6 with four players in the 100: Oliver Ekman Larsson (#3), Kyle Turris (#12), Mikkel Boedker (#14) and Max Goncharov (#44). That’s a pretty impressive take and they proved to be much deeper than I remembered or realized. Anaheim ranks #20 with two top 100 guys: Luca Sbisa (#9) and Kyle Palmieri (#70). Dallas is just slightly ahead of the Sharks at 24th and I think their ranking should be lower considering they traded Ivan Vishnevskiy (#51) to Atlanta in the Kari Lehtonen deal. Their prize prospect is Kyle Glennie (#27), a WHL forward who was cut from Canada’s Junior Team but has 88 points in junior hockey this year.

The Sharks coming in lower on this list is a product of their regular season success. LA has four 1st round draft pick prospects on the horizon, Phoenix has three 1st rounders up and coming. The Sharks haven’t had a 1st round pick in two years, dealing them to get Brian Campbell and Dan Boyle. The players drafted with the Sharks picks, Tyler Ennis and Kyle Palmieri, are both in the Top 100 prospects list at #29 and #70 respectively. Would Doug Wilson undo the Brian Campbell trade and his passion to win the Cup in 2008 if he knew he could have Buffalo’s top prospect in Ennis along side Couture in the minors? Would you rather have college forward Palmieri and Matt Carle or Dan Boyle?

Looking at this list makes me recognize more than ever that the Sharks window of dominance in the Pacific Division is closing and the era of the Los Angeles Kings could be on the horizon. The Sharks are young enough on the NHL level to still be an elite team in the NHL, but will they be a lock to win the Pacific Division in the future? With the Kings and Coyote rising and the Stars and Ducks fading, my crystal ball thinks this might be our last run at a #1 seed for awhile – making a deep playoff run this season more important than ever.

4 Comments to “SJ Sharks: Future Watch”

  1. Mike says:

    This might turn into a “Sharks can’t draft well” comment thread, so I figure I’ll get this out of the way at the outset. I’ve done a fair amount of research into this, and I’ve come to think that guys drafted outside the top 5 are more or less a crapshoot. Positions 5-10 do better than 10-30, but it’s not like the dropoff between the top five and next five. #1-5 are better than even money to become NHL players. Let’s look at the players Doug listed above with their draft position:
    Schenn – #5
    Bernier – #11
    Teubert – #13
    Hickey – #4
    Ekmann-Larson – #6
    Turris – #3
    Boedker – #8

    The Sharks haven’t natively had a pick this high since 2003, when they drafted Michalek #6. Not a bad pick actually, and fits about in the middle of #6s this decade. They traded up to get Couture at #9, who is turning out very well, and Seto (#8), who is a decent NHL player at 22, despite our desire to have him develop more quickly.

    Of course not having a first round pick hurts the Sharks in terms of their prospect rankings, but I think the real reason they are not near the top is because they just haven’t had the opportunity to get a ton of top 10 picks, and the ones they got are in the NHL already.

  2. Doug says:

    Agreed. The Sharks haven’t had the opportunity to pick that high because they’ve been so good or passed on the pick to make a Cup run. The Sharks top ten picks have either allowed them to trade for an elite player in Heatley or contribute themselves to a winning roster in Seto. That’s the point of having top ten picks, and in that respect the Sharks have succeeded – but the window is closing and the Kings are coming…

  3. Ruben says:

    I just wonder how many of these top prospects are “stars”, which is what teams need to become Stanley Cup contenders. Now, you don’t have to draft stars, you can trade for or sign them, but stars usually spend little to now time in the minors. For example, Drew Doughty spent almost no time in the minors… superstar. But if Brayden Schenn ends up as Devin Setoguchi in a couple of years, how much better is LA? Is Jonathan Bernier going to be better than, say, Steve Mason? Columbus has him and they aren’t close to the playoffs right now. And more importantly for the Sharks, is that team better than a Sharks squad with Thornton, Heatley, Boyle, Vlasic, Couture, McGinn, Demers and 1 or 2 of Pavs, Marleau, Nabby, and Seto?

    Hockey is in this weird middle zone between baseball and basketball. In baseball, EVERYONE goes to the minors, at least for a little bit. Farm systems are central to competitiveness (unless you are the Yankees). The NBA D-League at best pumps out a few 9th or 10th men in the rotation, if you are there you are going to be lucky to get to the NBA. The NHL… well, its one of those games where you can develop on the farm, but the best don’t have to (or don’t take more than a season or two). Think about this, when was the last time the Sharks had a farm system ranked in the top half on the league? As long as the Sharks continue to develop cheap depth players like McGinn and Demers, they should be competitive for the next 3-5 years (though maybe not President’s Cup level).

  4. Ruben says:

    Brad Staubitz – 1:22 of ice time against one of the bottom teams in the league. Why why why is he in the lineup?

    Rob Blake – 22 minutes of ice time. Took another horrendous unnecessary penalty that killed momentum. It would be nice to see TMac call him out, send a message that he needs to start leading by example.

    TMac also needs to start thinking about the playoffs. Playing McGinn 6 minutes and Nichol 15 is not putting the best team on the ice that he can.

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