The Sharks picked Dylan Gambrell with their first selection of the 2016 NHL Draft, prompting some head scratching. Gambrell wasn’t the “best available” by any major scouting group, but the center seems to fit into the Doug Wilson mold.
He scored 47 points in 41 games in his freshman season with the University of Denver and is a two-way center that may end up being a decent 3C if things work out.
The Sharks have a bit of a reputation of making picks like this. It seems Wilson prefers to take guys with a higher floor, even if it means they come with a much lower ceiling. In Gambrell, San Jose has a player that can play in the NHL within the next couple of seasons, but it’s unlikely he’ll turn into much more than a depth forward.
Our friends at SBN College Hockey like Gambrell’s versatility, but likely agree that taking him 60th overall is a reach. If there’s a reason to be concerned, it’s his rather unimpressive track record. While Gambrell broke out with the Pioneers this season, he never stood out while in the USHL (which is why he was available in his third year of draft eligibility).
Here are some additional notes on Gambrell from the University of Denver athletics site:
2015-16: Turned in the 12th-best scoring total by a freshman in DU history with 47 points (17G-30A) in 41 games played... Won the Barry Sharp Award as the Pios' top rookie... Earned All-Tournament Honors at NCAA West Regional after tallying 2G-3A-5P in Denver’s wins over BU and FSU... Named to NCHC All-Rookie Team and was a finalist for NCHC Rookie of the Year Award (won by Brock Boeser, UND)... Won both the NCHC and HCA National Rookie of the Month Award for February after tallying 6G-7A-13P in six games played... Earned five NCHC Rookie of the Week Awards... Named NCAA First Star of the Week on Feb. 23... Ranked No. 149 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in its mid-term report... Scored first career NCAA goal on Nov. 7 at Colorado College.
With the Sharks still very much in win-now mode, I get this pick. Gambrell is a guy that will be able to help the Sharks in the (relatively) near future. Who knows, maybe his freshman season at Denver is the spark he needed to take another big step forward next year.