A look at the San Jose Sharks top 10 prospects heading into the 2015-16 season.
After a disappointing season and failing to make the playoffs for the first time in ten years, the Sharks are a team looking for a new identity. The team replaced Head Coach Todd McLellan with Peter DeBoer and seem unable to move veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau due to no trade clauses in their contracts.
The Sharks appeared to embracing a youth movement with several prospects graduating to the big club in Chris Tierney, Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson. The team moved out Antti Niemi and replaced him with Martin Jones and signed 23 year old Joonas Donskoi. But the team also added more veterans by signing Joel Ward and Paul Martin.
The Sharks also added their top two prospects at this years draft to help bolster a prospect pool that has been somewhat depleted with so many recent roster graduations.
1. Timo Meier: Right Wing – 6’1” / 209 lbs
Drafted: ninth overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by San Jose
A winger with a great wrist and slapshot who loves to use it. His quick release makes it hard for goaltenders to track the shot. Uses all of his shot arsenal. Good first steps and speed but could be more agile. Has a good offensive mind and is always looking to put himself in a good shooting spot. Good play away from the puck in the offensive zone, though not in his own zone. Tends to make blind passes and turns the puck over too many times. Improved his physical play and is willing to use his body but still needs to use his size better in corner battles and while protecting the puck. Rather shoots than passes. Shows hockey sense and is making himself always available for a pass. His point production exploded this season and he elevated his game to a new level but this should be enjoyed with caution as he is on the teams most dominant offensive line together with 9th overall pick Nikolaj Ehlers. – Scouting Factory
2. Jeremy Roy: Defence – 6’0” / 188 lbs
Drafted: 31st overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by San Jose
An offensively gifted defenseman who is solid in the defensive zone…has a real smooth stride and is pretty mobile…very mature game with strong positioning and smart with the puck…tough to separate from it as he has a heavy stick…makes terrific passes and rarely has anything intercepted…has a good point shot as well and he gets it on net…has the vision and creativity to QB a PP…solid defensively, using his smarts and his strong stick to break up plays and take away chances…uses his strength on defense to play physically down low and contain his man…used in all situations…a big presence on the ice and slows down the play when the puck is on his stick. – Future Considerations
3. Nikolay Goldobin: Left Wing – 5’11” / 180 lbs
Drafted: 27th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by San Jose
opponents must respect his lateral cutting ability – tough to get a read on – sneaky, doesn’t show his intentions .. assertive and confident puckmover – wants the puck – curls with puck in neutral zone and appears to be cutting right but goes left – and freezes the checker to the spot .. scores many of his goals on the move .. soft hands and shot in close, quick release .. defensive awareness and effort in tight-checking games are concerns .. best suited in a top-six role, but may be a fringe top liner depending on his development. – McKeens Hockey
4. Joonas Donskoi: Right Wing – 6’0” / 180 lbs
Drafted: 99th overall in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by Florida
Acquired: Signed as a free agent by San Jose in 2015
Donskoi is an explosive skater. Works hard both ways. Has excellent stickhandling ability and puck control, but could improve his finishing skills. – Elite Prospects
5. Rourke Chartier: Centre – 5’11” / 180 lbs
Drafted: 149th overall in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by San Jose
Chartier is a very quick skater who never seems to stop moving his feet. He has very good top end speed and excellent acceleration. He is always first in on the forecheck and creating turnovers in the offensive zone. A quick first step helps him to win races to loose pucks all over the ice. Chartier also has good agility and edgework. He might be a little undersized, but he is very strong on his skates and has excellent balance. Chartier is a pure goal scorer. When his teammates get the puck he seems to find the soft spots in the defence and is always open to bury a feed in the back of the net with a strong, hard shot and good release. He has the soft hands to finish in tight and the coordination and quickness to get tip-ins and pounce on rebounds. Through sheer hard work down low he is also able to create chances for teammates and picks up assists that way. Uses that effort level on the backcheck as well. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win, blocking shots, cutting down passing lanes, and taking a hit to make sure the puck gets out at the defensive blue line. – Last Word on Sports
6. Nikita Jevpalovs: Left Wing – 6’1” / 207 lbs
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in 2015
The undrafted Latvian had a breakout year in the QMJHL, scoring 49 goals and 100 points in 64 games. The Sharks are hoping that he is a late bloomer and can translate his overage success in junior to the pro level against men. Jevpalovs attended the Philadelphia Flyers training camp last summer but was not offered a contract. The Sharks are playing with house money on this gamble
Attacking Latvian wing with a relentless motor. Makes good puck decisions and never seems to stop moving and working. Is patient and displays good hands, and passes. Good in traffic and in close. – Draft Site
7. Dylan Sadowy: Left Wing – 6’1” / 180 lbs
Drafted: 81st overall in the third round of the 2014 draft by San Jose
plays a simple yet effective game as he habitually drives and heads to the net .. goals come as a direct result of hard work as he stays with plays, has better than average hand/eye coordination .. competes at both ends of the rink but can be guilty of not moving his feet at times .. an average skater with little explosiveness in his stride – yet can generate surprising top speed .. lacks balance and tends to fall down too much .. while not a physical force he can play a pestering style .. may find top-nine NHL employment if his defence and skating continue to improve – McKeens Hockey
8. Julius Bergman: Defence – 6’1” / 195 lbs
Drafted: 46th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by San Jose
Bergman is very active physically, stepping up on players crossing the blue line, and using his size to push forwards to the corners. Overall his size, mobility, and physicality makes him a solid defender off the rush. Coverage is his biggest weakness, but he made strides there. Offensively, he moves the puck well, either by rushing it or by making a solid outlet. His shot from the point is solid too and he could run a power play at the next level. – Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
9. Noah Rod: Right Wing – 6’0” / 188 lbs
Drafted: 53rd overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by San Jose
He is a fast skater with good acceleration and mobility. Based on his playing style he would rather fit in a third or fourth line where he could be an effective two-way player with physical upside. Rod is a hard worker on the ice and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty. – Dennis Schellenberg, THW
10. Kevin Labanc: Right Wing – 5’10” / 175 lbs
Drafted: 171st overall in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by San Jose
Two things changed in Labanc’s game this year. First is skating ability. Massive improvements in that area. Allowed him to be more involved offensively in every facet. Also made him a better player without the puck. Second was his skill level with the puck and his strength in maintaining puck possession. Labanc was a HUGE factor creating scoring chances off the rush this year, dotting in and out and proving to be a very slippery player for defences to key in on. – Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
Recent Roster Graduations: Barclay Goodrow, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Chris Tierney, Micro Mueller, Martin Jones
Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.
Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling