Drafting in the first round for the first time in three years, San Jose selected right winger Charlie Coyle from the South Shore
Coyle received the 2010 John Carlton Award, given to a standout male student athlete in a Massachusetts high school or junior hockey program, following a season that saw him post 21 goals and 42 assists for the Kings. Coyle was also named Rookie of The Year in the EJHL last season, finishing fifth overall in scoring.
He is the third straight American player to be chosen by the Sharks with their initial pick in the draft. He is Tony Amonte's cousin, and explained that his decision to go to Boston University was a dream he held his entire life due to his relative's successful transition to the NHL following a two year stint with the Terriers.
"I'm a good two-way player who likes to battle hard," Coyle explained at the media scrum following his selection. "I'm a pretty good passer who can make hits and play physical."
Coyle is described as a power forward who can also play a finesse game, using his strong body down low to push opposing players off the puck and generate space for himself. Despite his large frame, which comes in at 6'2 202 pounds, Coyle has a proficient set of hands and good vision, which he uses to set up scoring opportunities for his linemates. He is billed as a guy who is able to beat defenseman with his skating ability, somewhat of a rarity for a organization that does not pay much attention to a player's skating ability during the draft.
Furthermore, Coyle found himself in the top ten in many notable pre-draft tests. The Wingate Cycle Ergometer (measuring anaerobic fitness levels), the VO2 Max Test (measuring aerobic fitness levels), leg power, grip strength, and pull strength were all areas were Coyle flourished. These tests all contribute to the assertion that he was one of the most physically imposing players entering today's first round.
"If I had to compare myself to an NHL player today, it would probably be ," Coyle said. "I feel like he does everything in his power to win and compete."
A notable piece of the information from the day was the fact that Emerson Etam, a Long Beach, CA native, dropped to the 29th pick in the Draft, eventually being selected by the immediately following San Jose's acquisition of Coyle. Etam was projected by Central Scouting as the 8th best North American skater in the draft due to his great skating ability and 37 goals with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. Tyler Toffoli of the Ottawa 67's, who Fear The Fin chose in SBN's mock draft earlier this week, also went unselected.
Responding to the question of passing over Etam in favor of the less heralded Coyle, Wilson mentioned that Etam was on the Sharks radar when they were on the clock.
"We liked both players, to be quite honest with you," Wilson said. "However, we like Charlie a lot, we saw him a lot, and he can play many different positions. There were many players who dropped a bit today, and there were some surprises in regards to where people fell to. Charlie was a guy our staff and I identified as a player who may have gone earlier in the round."
Going into the day, many felt that the Sharks would target a forward due to the lack of high-end depth at that position. However, Wilson indicated that is never the philosophy the Sharks employ when selecting a player.
"We always take the guy who is the best player available, our system is full of players at varying positions," Wilson said. "With Worcester being one of the youngest American Hockey League teams last year, and San Jose also being a young team, we have a young group of guys that we have available. That competition keeps everybody on their toes within the organization."
Whether or not the Sharks made the right choice today will likely take many years to fully understand-- with the majority of players selected in the first round being eighteen year old young men who still require years of development in order to reach the NHL level, San Jose is still at least two years away from seeing the fruits of today's labors.
Was it a relatively gutsy pick? One would think so, especially when you consider pre-draft rankings supplied by the likes of TSN and Central Scouting. But despite the fact that notable names such as Toffoli and Etam were passed on, San Jose's track record with draft selections is hard to debate-- they are one of the more successful teams in this area across the entire NHL, combining a good developmental structure with advanced metrics to determine a player's value to the team.
We've doubted draft picks before, but as is always the case, initial opinions never seem to matter once a player takes the ice.