SHAWINIGAN, CANADA - MAY 27: Brandon Gormley #36 of the Shawinigan Cataractes defends against Chris Tierney #71 of the London Knights during the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup game at the Bionest Centre on May 27, 2012 in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
With the 55th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the compensatory choice the team received as a result of not signing Patrick White, the Sharks grabbed center Chris Tierney of the OHL's London Knights. Tierney is an off-the-board pick to be sure, not even registering among the top 100 consensus rankings that weigh the projections of most major scouting services and experts. Central Scouting has him ranked 118th overall while Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus had him at 116th, the only draft rankings I could find him on.
Tierney scored 11 goals and 34 points to go along with a +25 rating in 65 games last season playing on the Knights' fourth line with rookies Josh Anderson and Bo Horvat. The Knights organization has had success turning out bottom-six NHL talent in the past with the likes of Dave Bolland, Chris Kelly and Brandon Prust having all plied their trade in London, Ontario. Neate Sager of the terrific CHL blog Buzzing the Net interviewed Tierney a month ago who had this to say about what he looks to improve about his game:
"Obviously getting stronger and developing a better shot are big things. The one area I really want to improve is my faceoffs. It's a key part of the game and that's a little thing that can get you to the next level along with shot-blocking. The guys at the next level know how to do it properly so that's one thing I need to improve on."
I don't feel comfortable criticizing draft selections since I know nothing about any of these players, particularly past the first round, apart from what I've read in scouting reports; it's probably best to defer to the wisdom of those in charge of making these picks who scout teenage hockey players for a living. Still, taking a fourth-liner in the second round seems like a pretty sizable reach, considering it seems probable he would have still been available at 138th overall, the Sharks' next pick. Skilled forwards like Daniil Zharkov, Tim Bozon and Cristoval Nieves were all still on the board and would have presumably been better selections for a team in need of a talent infusion up front in the pipeline. Despite that, the Sharks have infinitely more information here than I do so I'll reserve judgment until we see how these players turn out which won't be for another half-decade. If the team can get an NHL player out of a late second rounder, even one who doesn't project to be any better than a bottom-six guy, that's a win.