Good drafting is (one of) the keys to building a championship-caliber team, and while the Sharks fell short in the Stanley Cup Final, they can at least hang their hat on their drafting. Nine of the Sharks who played in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final (and one Penguin) were drafted by San Jose — let’s take a look at the list.
Two of the nine, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, are defenders while the rest are forwards. The Sharks haven’t had much success drafting a goalie since Evgeni Nabokov and San Jose’s goalie of the future was acquired via a trade. Eight of these nine players played in every game of the Stanley Cup Final (Tomas Hertl was injured after two games).
Patrick Marleau is the longest serving San Jose draft pick while Hertl and Chris Tierney are the most recent draft picks. Three of the nine are first round draft picks (Hertl, Logan Couture and Marleau) and another three are second rounders (Tierney, Matt Nieto and Vlasic).
Where the Sharks really struck gold is in the late portions of the draft. Joe Pavelski is the go-to seventh-round steal, and for good reason, but San Jose also got an incredibly solid defender in Braun in the seventh round of the 2007 draft. The Sharks also picked up Tommy Wingels in the sixth round of the 2008 draft — a flyer on a guy that has paid off.
Just for the heck of it, Nick Bonino, who ended up winning his first Cup, was drafted by the Sharks in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. He never played a game for the Sharks, as he was traded to Anaheim with Timo Pielmeier and San Jose's 4th round choice (Andrew O'Brien) in 2012 Entry Draft for Travis Moen and Kent Huskins on March 4, 2009 (via hockey-reference). Not a great trade with the benefit of hindsight.
With San Jose nearing the end of its current window (at least with Thornton-Marleau as the true core), drafting will become even more important in the next few years. For now, shrewd trades and free agency pick ups hold top priority for a Sharks team that should be focused on winning now for the next season or two.
Doug Wilson’s offseason moves deserve credit for helping put the Sharks over the top, but none of it would matter without the well-drafted core.