When the San Jose Sharks selected forward Charlie Coyle with the 28th overall pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft, it caught many by surprise. However, when you talk to Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson, the team obviously saw something that draft experts didn't. Even with Emerson Etem, the 8th ranked North American skater, still on the board the Sharks selected Coyle, ranked 24th in Central Scouting's final rankings.
"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."
For San Jose, who hadn't drafted in the first round for two straight years, the 28th overall pick in 2010 was a significant one for the franchise. Fan expectations were high, and the positional prospect pool behind a select few notable names (Logan Couture, Nick Petrecki & William Wrenn) had dried up in recent years. So when the Sharks chose Coyle instead of Etem, it turned a few heads.
Now, it seems, Coyle's play is what's getting all the attention.
Coyle isn't near as flashy as Etem, who became somewhat of a sensation on YouTube for his highlight reel style goals. Instead, Coyle describes himself as "a good two-way player who likes to battle hard", and "a pretty good passer who can make hits and play physical."
He's letting those skills shine at the United States World Junior Camp.
Currently being held in Lake Placid, New York this week, Coyle has been turning heads with his gritty two play and scoring pop. During the intersquad games that began the week, Coyle was placed on Team White where he notched two goals and one assist in three games, helping to guide his team to a three game sweep over their blue counterparts. Following that performance, Coyle was placed on the official roster for the international scrimmages, earning rave reviews from in the process.
USA Today's Kevin Allen reports that the play of Coyle, Nick Bjustad (FLO), and Brock Nelson (NYI) have been the talk of the camp thus far.
"They are very involved in the play," USA Hockey assistant executive director Jim Johannson told Allen. "They all appear to be solid all-around players. If the three centermen are the real deal, and they have been so far, we should have a formidable group."
Coyle, along with his Team USA teammates, haven't dissapointed thus far during international play. Coyle notched the game winning goal when the United States defeated Sweden 6-3 in their first game, and the Americans also went on to defeat Finland 6-3 a day later. Although Team USA lost 4-1 in a rematch against Sweden earlier this afternoon, they will have an opportunity to sweep the Finns tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM.
Interested parties will be able to stream the game live at USAHockey.FASTHockey.com tomorrow afternoon.
Although Coyle, who will head to Boston University in the fall, won't be cracking the San Jose lineup for the coming season, the early returns on their investment seem to be coming along well. And while playing against 20U competition is a far cry from the rigors of an 82 game NHL season, the fact that Coyle has been the talk of the camp thus far is nothing but a positive, both for the Sharks organization as well as USA Hockey as a whole.