Sharks Prospects in the CHL Playoffs

(Note: This fanpost was published earlier, but due to an odd inability to edit the old one, I deleted it and posted a new one with some updated information.)

The Sharks had 5 prospects playing in the CHL playoffs: Taylor Doherty (D) for the Kingston Frontenacs and Julien Demers (D) for the Ottawa 67s in the OHL, Sam Groulx (D) for the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL, and Marek Viedensky (C) for the Saskatoon Blades and Thomas Heemskerk (G) in the WHL. Only 1 of them, Sam Groulx is still playing. His team has swept both the 1st and 2nd round series it's played in. After the break I've got some analysis and commentary based on stat lines, scouting reports I've found, and the bits of playoff games I've heard on the radio for the non-QMJHL prospects (most QMJHL radio broadcasts are in French).

Update: Groulx's team was eliminated in the 3rd round of the QMJHL playoffs in 6 games.

Taylor Doherty

5 GP, 1G, 4A, +4, 0 PIM
Regular Season
63 GP, 16 G, 28 A, +1, 114 PIM

By many accounts, Taylor Doherty, a 2nd round draft pick of the Sharks in 2009, was one of the best players on the ice for the Frontenacs in the playoffs, and statistically outshone projected top 5 2010 NHL draft pick Erik Gudbranson, his own defense partner. (Just compare his stat line to everyone else on his team.) He had been suspended for a rather dirty cross-check to the head during the regular season. The suspension carried over into the first two games of the playoffs, both of which the Frontenacs lost. They won Doherty's first game back. A late 2nd round draft pick of the Sharks in 2009, Doherty has taken some major strides forward this year, and could turn out to be a great pick. Originally projected as a top 10 pick in 2009 due to his size and decent skating ability, his stock had fallen drastically during his draft year, but his play this year has definitely put him back on the map. The OHL Prospects blog says the following about him:

His improvement from game 68 of last year, to game one of this year, to game four of the playoffs (going tonight) has been remarkable IMO. He was the biggest (no pun intended) reason for Kingston's strong play down the stretch and there is absolutely no co-incidence that his first game back from suspension in the playoffs resulted in Kingston's first win of the series. He had 15 goals, 18 assists, and 33 points in the last 33 games of the season. It's pretty scary considering what he might accomplish next year.

Doherty played his final game of the season on March 30th, in a Game 7 loss in the OHL Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals (Round 1) to the Brampton Battalion. He has already signed an ELC with the Sharks, but will be returning to the OHL next year unless he makes the NHL Sharks out of training camp.

Julien Demers

10 GP, 0 G, 7 A, +6, 10 PIM
Regular Season
54 GP, 5 G, 23 A, +20, 41 PIM

Julien Demers was a 5th round draft pick of the Sharks in 2008. He's been the number 1 defenseman for the 67's for a while now (ahead of more physically gifted skaters like Minnesota Wild 1st round pick Tyler Cuma) and plays a physical shutdown game. The main knock on him is his poor skating and lack of agility. However, he seems to have been a bit more of a puck mover in the playoffs than he was during the regular season. (His scoring rate certainly increased over the regular season.) From looking at game by game splits of his statistics in the playoffs, his teams' fortunes seemed to mirror his own, i.e., he did badly in the games they lost and vice versa. For a 5th round pick, he's certainly done quite well. I think the question is whether his physical abilities are good enough to let him transfer his shutdown game into pro hockey. You can read what the OHL prospects blog has to say about his play in the 1st round series of the playoffs here. He played his last game of the season on Monday April 12th, in a Game 7 loss in the OHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals (Round 2) to the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors. He has to be signed to an NHL entry-level contract within the next few months in order for the Sharks to retain his rights.

Marek Viedensky

10 GP, 7 G, 3 A, +4, 0 PIM
Regular Season
30 GP, 16 G, 18 A, +18, 27 PIM with Saskatoon Blades
31 GP, 4 G, 21 A, -1 with Prince George Cougars

Marek Viedensky, a 7th round draft pick of the Sharks in 2009, is reasonably large Slovakian center playing in the WHL, arguably the most physical of the 3 Canadian major junior hockey leagues. He was traded to his current team in the middle of the year in what was essentially a WHL "trade deadline deal". His offensive production has increased quite a bit since then, and he was the leading goalscorer on his team in the playoffs. He also represented Slovakia at the World Juniors and did reasonably well there with a point/game effort, despite his team's poor showing. He was already known for excellent defensive play and PK'ing, so with some added strength and bulk, there's a good chance he could develop into an excellent shutdown center with some scoring pop in the mold of Martin Hanzal. Hopefully his increased scoring is an indication that he has something of a surplus of talent right now and will be able to keep up with skaters in the NHL down the road. He could return to the Blades next year as an overager, or he might be signed to a contract and play in the AHL next year.

Update: Viedensky has been signed to an ELC with the Sharks and will play in the AHL next year barring a surprise in training camp.

Thomas Heemskerk

2 GP, 3.70 GAA, 0.870 SVPCT, 1-0-1, 0 SO
Regular Season
42 GP, 2.34 GAA, 0.927 SVPCT, 24-12-2-2, 4 SO

Thomas Heemskerk, an undrafted free agent signed by the Sharks out of training camp at the start of the season, had an excellent regular season with the Everett Silvertips, posting a career high 0.927 SVPCT and excellent W-L record. However, both him and his platoon partner, Kent Simpson, faltered tremendously in the playoffs. It does seem from their stat lines that Heemskerk was the worse of the two. The Sharks will have to find a place for him somewhere in their crowded (for goaltenders at least) developmental system next year unless he remains in the WHL as an overager next year, which seems unlikely.

Samuel Groulx

Updated Playoffs
16 GP, 1 G, 7 A, +5, 18 PIM
Regular Season
26 GP, 3 G, 13 A, +15, 25 PIM with the Victoriaville Tigres
40 GP, 11 G, 16 A, +0, 44 PIM with the Quebec Remparts

Samuel Groulx, a 4th round pick of the Sharks in 2008, was also traded in the middle of the year to a contending team. He is a shutdown defenseman in the Vlasic mold, a smart player with a good stick, but not terribly physical. (The guy does have a rather slender frame, being 6'2" and only 177 lbs.) In fact, his original junior team the Quebec Remparts, was the same QMJHL team Vlasic came from. (It also happens to be coached by Patrick Roy.) He'll definitely need to get stronger to be an effective NHL defenseman, but I certainly wouldn't mind having an extra Vlasic on the team. He does have a bit of scoring pop as evidenced by his 43 points in the regular season, but the QMJHL is known as highest scoring junior league in Canada. (Vlasic had over a Pt/G during the regular season and playoffs in his final season in the Q.) While expecting Groulx to turn into Vlasic might be a bit much, he does seem to be a relatively steady player. He's 1st in playoff +/- on his team and has in fact only had one game with a negative +/-. (That may not be particularly difficult though, when your team has only lost a single game in two rounds.) Groulx is the only Sharks prospect that is still playing in all of junior hockey. He will be needing a contract at the end of his season in order for him to remain Sharks property. Since I don't doubt that he'll get one, he'll almost definitely be playing in the AHL next year barring an unlikely return as an over-ager. (The Sharks do have a lot of defensemen signed to contracts though, with Joslin, Moore, Wilson, Schaus, Braun, Loprieno all currently having contracts. Combine that with the couple of AHL vets on the team, and I wouldn't be entirely surprised to seen one of either Demers or Groulx returned to their junior team to play as an over-ager even if they do receive a contract.)

Update:Stat lines would seem to indicate that Groulx didn't do so well in his final series against the Sea Dogs. He did have a couple decent games in which he picked up a few assists but also went -3 in another game.

The Sharks also own the rights to Phil Varone (5th round pick in 2009), a forward for the London Knights, but he has been injured for much of the season and didn't see any icetime in the playoffs. He will be returning to the Knights next year.

This item was created by a member of this blog's community and is not necessarily endorsed by Fear The Fin.

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