Looking Ahead to the NHL Entry Draft

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 25: 47th overall pick .Matt Nieto by the San Jose Sharks and General Manager Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks pose for a photo on the draft floor during day two of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 25, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Since we’re a month away from the 2012 draft, which will happen June 22-23, and the Sharks (for now) actually own a pick in the top 20 I thought it would be a good time to talk about the prospects that could be available.

The Sharks will be drafting 17th overall this year should they use their own pick. They also own the #55 pick, their own 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th as well as Tampa Bay’s 7th.

This draft is very heavy on d-men. There are a couple of forwards who could turn into franchise players in Yakupov and Grigorenko but a majority of the high(er) end talent in this draft are d-men. If you browse through the draft rankings (listed below) you’ll see there is no consensus on the top 10, the only thing everyone agrees on is who should go #1.

A lot of the ‘scouts’ out there say the top 12-15 players are likely to be very good, but the talent level starts to fall off after that. Many are predicting that 1st round picks may be traded pretty freely this year so if the Sharks want to move up or down in the draft they should be able to find a "dance partner". It sounds like there could be quite a bit of wheeling and dealing on draft day.

There are several things the Sharks can do with their first round pick - use it in a trade for a player, trade it for more (2nd, 3rd, 2013) draft picks, use it along with other picks and / or players to move up, or keep it.

If the Sharks keep the pick, based on their prospect pool they need to draft a forward. There are a couple of forwards who, if for some reason they fall out of the top 10, the Sharks should think about moving up to draft in Collberg and Faska. I’m also going to mention Galchenyuk, Forsberg and Teravainan but there is very, very little chance those three will fall out of the top 10. Girgensons & Aberg would be good picks at or around 17 as well.

I honestly have no idea who could be available at the #17 pick because the "experts" don‘t seem to agree on much outside of Yakupov and Forsberg being in the top 5. Chances are the BPA will be a d-man so fans really shouldn’t be surprised if A) the Sharks end up trading the pick for multiple later picks or B) pick a d-man as chances are the d-man they pick will have first pair / top 3 upside.

Based on what I think I know about Doug Wilson’s group of scouts and their history of drafting, there are two forwards and two defensemen who I think are the "typical Sharks draft pick". It’s debatable whether or not these four player will be available at 17:
  • Brendon Gaunce, a big two way center w/ good passing & finishing skills w/ a high hockey IQ. One Scout (Pronman) say his skating is below average while others say it’s average.
  • Zemgus Girgensons is also a smart two way center who is a good puck handler and more or less good to great at everything (his game actually sounds a bit like Charlie Coyle‘s).
  • Cody Ceci is a good all around d-man w/ a high hockey IQ. Plus, he’s an Ottawa 67!
  • Griffin Reinhart is a big, smart offensive d-man who is good in all situations.

All of these players would be good picks but again, I really think the org. needs to take a forward in the first round.

There are a few players that could be available at #55 that would be pretty good picks as well: Stefan Matteau, Gemel Smith, Phil DiGuiseppe, Cristoval Nieves, Martin Frk, Henrik Samuelsson, Jimmy Vesey, Mark Jankowski. But again, one of these players (Frk) is ranked as low as 33 on one list and as high as 55 on another so I guess what I’m saying is the draft is a crap shoot and as always, expect the unexpected.

Below are four different draft rankings:

Hockey Prospectus - Corey Pronman (1-100)
At the bottom of the page there are links to pretty detailed scouting reports, he’s posted info on 1-40 so far. http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1305

Pronman has very specific criteria for how he does his rankings and was kind enough to explain it. If you’re interested you can read about it here: http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1304

ISS (1-50)

CSS - NA Skaters (1-210), Euro Skaters (1-120), NA Goalies (1-35), Euro Goalies (1-11)

Craig Button (1-60)
He’s a bit out there with some of his rankings… http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=49649

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