The San Jose Sharks faithful have recently been consumed by the pro team's holiday season struggles, a storyline which has taken precedent over all others as the team attempts to recover from this stretch of sub-par play.
Because of this, Sharks prospect Charlie Coyle hasn't gotten the attention he's deserved, shining at the World Junior Championship currently underway in Buffalo, New York.
Coyle leads all US players in points with five and is tied for the team lead in goals. He's in a six-way tie for third in points for the tournament headed into tonight's match against Switzerland. It's must watch TV for Sharks fans on NHL Network.
The fact that every game in the tournament is being broadcasted hasn't hurt Coyle's stock, as many national pundits have taken notice of the young forward.
@TSNBobMcKenzie: 4-0 final, Team USA over Germany. Charlie Coyle with U.S. player of game.
@DamienCox: Sharks look like they've got a good one in U.S. forward Charlie Coyle, 28th overall last June. Size and hands.
"Size and hands" is exactly what Doug Wilson and the Sharks scouting department saw when they drafted Coyle in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Although there were flashier talents available at the 28th pick such as Emerson Etem (1 goal in 3 games for team USA at the WJC), the Sharks went with Coyle, a 6'2", 202lb forward who is now in first year at Boston University.
Coyle has been getting praise ever since, shining at the USA World Junior Camp and having a strong year at Boston, and it seems like he's on the fast track to NHL success.
However, even Plank and I were surprised to hear from an east coast source that the Sharks are considering signing Coyle to an professional contract, and may do so before the end of the World Junior Championship.
We aren't calling into question the validity of the information or the reputation of the source, but it just doesn't make much sense to us. Rushing Coyle through the system would be in stark contrast to the way that the organization handled former first round pick Logan Couture, who's excelling in his first full NHL season after being eased into the professional game. In addition, signing Coyle to a professional contract would prevent him from playing further at Boston University. For a player who has stated that his education is important to him, it's curious that the Sharks would consider making any such move now.
Still, for a player who looks like he's NHL ready, at least from his play at the World Junior Championships, we can't blame the organization for their interest in signing him to an NHL deal. Again, it's likely that any talks within the Sharks organization in respect to extending Coyle an offer are extremely preliminary.
Regardless, it certainly looks as if the Sharks scouting department made the right move in drafting Coyle. It remains uncertain, though, when we will see him in teal. FTF will keep you up to date with any developments.