2012 SB Nation Mock Draft: Fear The Fin Selects Charles Hudon With No. 55 Pick

The San Jose Sharks' only draft pick this weekend in Pittsburgh between 17th overall and 138th will be the 55th selection, a compensatory choice given to the Sharks as a result of not signing former Canucks first rounder Patrick White. As with most second rounds in entry draft history, there should be a good number of players available who possess a terrific talent level coupled with some holes in their game that caused them to fall out of the top 30. Fear The Fin's pick at 55th overall, left wing Charles Hudon of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL, is no exception. Hudon has been a scoring force in the Q for two seasons now, winning rookie of the year honors in that league in 2010-11, but is undersized (listed at just 5'8" and 165 pounds at eliteprospects) and is reportedly a below-average skater. Still, The Scouting Report ranked him an impressive 25th overall in their mid-term rankings this season and had this to say about Hudon:

Hudon is undersized and his skating isn’t going to blow you away, but he’s a skilled player who always seems to find ways to score goals and create offense. Offensively, Hudon’s skill level is very high and he has the offensive tools that few in this draft can match. One of the things that separates Hudon from others, however, is his willingness to battle through adversity and find ways to score goals when the defense is keying in on him. There’s no doubt that Hudon is a risky pick, but for a team picking at the end of the 1st round, he could be well worth that risk in several years.

Well the Sharks are picking at the end of the 2nd round, which made Hudon even more intriguing of a risk. However, there are concerns about Hudon's game that extend even beyond his mediocre skating abilty and diminutive stature. After an impressive rookie season in which he scored at a .95 points per game rate as a 16-year-old, Hudon's offensive production only showed a slight improvement this past season to 1.11 points per game. That might be contributing to the fact that neither the ISS nor Bob McKenzie's TSN rankings have him listed among their top 50 and 60 picks, respectively, although Hudon does clock in at exactly 55th on Derek Zona's consensus rankings that weighs the opinions of several scouting services. If Hudon is to make the NHL it will almost certainly have to be as a top-six forward so it would have been encouraging to see him produce at a higher rate this season.

Hudon's measured offensive progress hasn't scared off Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman, however, who had the forward at 34th in his final top 100 heading into the draft. Pronman has similar reservations about Hudon's game as The Scouting Report but believes that, with some work on his skating, the kid can turn into something special:

He's a very creative and skilled player with the puck, showing high-end ability in that area, with the capabilities to create space for himself well and control the puck for lengthy periods of time. Hudon's best asset is his hockey sense as he's a tremendous passer who sees the ice so well and thinks the game in the other aspects at a high level too. He has a good panic threshold with the ability to control the play in tight quarters and still make all the right plays while being checked. Hudon is great on the power play and is very dangerous when he sets up on the side boards. His upside is very desirable, however he has some notable to significant holes. First of all, Hudon is a very small player. He's listed at 5'10" but that's likely overstated. He does attack the physical areas but he can be easily overwhelmed by bigger players. He's also an average skater if not leaning towards below-average and well below-average for a player of his size. If his skating can take a step forward, he has a chance to really be something with his upside, but if not, he may not even hit the NHL.

For the next few years, I think the Sharks should be focusing on boom-or-bust picks in the second round and beyond rather than playing it safe with projected depth players since there are enough of those in the system (and, even if they don't pan out, that type of player is easy to acquire on the open market) but a dearth of highly-skilled prospects, particularly up front. Hudon fits the bill as do several other players realistically available around the 55th pick (assuming the Sharks don't move it). Cristoval Nieves, a high school player, is held back by questions about his inconsistency but possesses size and reportedly explosive skating ability. Tomas Hyka, infamous for having played in a preseason game last season due to Paul Holmgren's misunderstanding of the CBA, "has an admirable work ethic too, as he will get in on the forecheck to pressure opponents and hustle back to cover his assignment" in addition to blazing speed and good vision. Daniil Zharkov, who has an outside chance of falling to 55, is a goal-scoring winger who, in open ice, "is very dangerous and defenders have to be very cognizant of him on the ice because when he breaks open, it is often too late."

Getting back to Hudon, here are his career statistics in AAA and the Q:

As well as the obligatory YouTube highlight package:

And, finally, here's a look at the picks that preceded this one in the SBN mock draft (I listed the first 16 picks in a comment here), both for a list of some of the names available in the second round and so everyone has the information necessary to yell at me for not picking a different available player:

18. Blackhawks: Matt Finn, D
19. Lightning: Derrick Pouliot, D
20. Flyers: Brendan Gaunce, F
21. Sabres: Stefan Matteau, F
22. Penguins: Slater Koekkoek, D
23. Panthers: Hampus Lindholm, D
24. Bruins: Dalton Thrower, D
25. Blues: Nicolas Krediles, F
26. Canucks: Colton Sissons, F
27. Coyotes: Ville Pokka, D
28. Rangers: Mark Jankowski, F
29. Devils: Tom Wilson, F
30. Kings: Anton Slepyshev, F
31. Blue Jackets: Malcolm Subban, G
32. Oilers: Damon Severson, D
33. Canadiens: Ludvig Byström, D
34. Islanders: Brady Skjei, D
35. Maple Leafs: Andrei Vasilievskiy, G
36. Ducks: Tanner Pearson, F
37. Predators: Scott Laughton, F
38. Hurricanes: Henrik Samuelsson, F
39. Jets: Martin Frk, F
40. Lightning: Oscar Dansk, G
41. Avalanche: Jordan Schmaltz, D
42. Sabres: Tim Bozon, LW
43. Stars: Phil Di Giuseppe, LW
44. Sabres: Lukas Sutter, C
45. Blue Jackets: Ryan Culkin, D
46. Wild: Michael Matheson, D
47. Hurricanes: Scott Kosmachuk F
48. Blackhawks: Jarrod 'Iron' Maidens, F
49. Red Wings: Calle Andersson D
50. Predators: Daniil Zharkov, F
51. Canadiens: Nikolai Prokhorkin, F
52. Penguins: Austin Cangelosi, F
53. Panthers: Brady Vail, F
54. Capitals: Nikita Gusev, F