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Sharks top 20 Prospects 13-7

Ian Reid breaks down part 2 of his annual top 20 prospect rankings

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

For three seasons running now, I have done my own list of top 20 prospects for the Sharks. This year I am excited to bring the list to Fear The Fin to really put its feet in the fire. My method for doing so is trying to balance out where they are in their development today and their expected ceiling. I have done my best to combine my own viewings with some trusted opinions from others like Chris Edwards, Zachary DeVine, and former Fear The Fin writer Dylan Finan to come up with this list. I want to thank them all for taking the time to help me out here.

The criteria I have used for what is a prospect is Under 75 NHL games played as well as under the age of 25, so sorry Barclay Goodrow, Tim Heed, Ryan Carpenter, and Troy Grosenick but you don’t make the cut. This also differs from the Sharks 25 under 25 because players like Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney also don’t qualify.

Be sure to check out the other lists: 20-14 / 13-7 / 6-1

#13 Julius Bergman - D
Born: 11/02/1995 (21)
Nationality: Swedish
Shoots: Right
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Acquired: 2014 NHL Entry Draft (2nd round, 46th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Julius Bergman is another player in the Sharks system that I have really turned around on for the better this season. I thought the organization made a mistake last year by not returning him to the London Knights, a team that would win the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup last year. The Barracuda were kind of a tire fire last year and Bergman had a hard time adjusting to the pro game, often looking overwhelmed.

The defense was a big question mark for the ‘Cuda this season, but the Swede has mostly helped answer it. Bergman’s performance this year along with the additions of Tim Heed and the mostly unheralded play of Jacob Middleton have made them a real contender.

Bergman is a good two-way defender with some offensive touch but is not afraid to throw his body around as well. There are still some flaws in his game, like being overly aggressive at times, taking too many penalties, and ill-advised pinches. He has plenty of time to work out his game, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he started seeing his name mentioned in injury call-ups next year. This season with the Barracuda he has scored three goals and 20 assists in 52 games.

#12 Jeremy Roy - D
Born: 05/14/1997 (19)
Nationality: Canadian
Shoots: Right
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Acquired: 2015 NHL Entry Draft (2nd. round, 31st overall)
Current Team: Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)

I know that I will likely get some flack for having Roy so low on my list, as far as potential ceiling and raw talent. The issue is in the past three seasons he has only played a total of 101 games out of a possible 204 regular season games due to injury including suffering a season-ending injury only 10 games into his overage season.

The injury concerns and lost development time have really tempered my expectations for a guy who I was actually pretty excited about in an otherwise mediocre Sharks draft. As defenceman go Roy is a good two-way guy who’s a good skater with excellent awareness in all three zones. He can be a little offensively minded at times which can get him into trouble. I’m curious to see what rookie camp brings for Roy this summer and wonder if he will need some time in the ECHL to get his game back up to speed as he turns pro.

Zachary DeVine made the following observations at last summer’s rookie camp.

The Sharks 31st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft finally had a healthy and busy summer. He was healthy and attended the Sharks Development Camp and then headed out to the National Junior Evaluation Camp in Plymouth, Michigan. Roy skated in a pair of Team Canada’s exhibition games and looked like he belonged in the top half of the Canadian defenders. Out at the Rookie Showcase, it was more of the same, with excellent breakout passes, smooth skating and heads-up play being the hallmark of his game. Despite heading back to the QMJHL this season, Roy is the San Jose defender with the most upside both regarding fantasy hockey and NHL ability.

#11 Marcus Sorensen - LW
Born: 04/07/92 (24)
Nationality: Swedish
Shoots: Left
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 170 lbs.
Acquired: Unsigned Unrestricted Free Agent
(Originally drafted 106th overall by Ottawa in 2010)
Current Team: San Jose Sharks / San Jose Barracuda

Marcus Sorensen is yet another great find for Doug Wilson’s European scouts. He is a very fast skater who despite his small stature does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game and is a scorer with some creativity. Sorensen impressed many people in rookie and training camp but had some issues adjusting to the smaller ice when the level of competition increased.

With hard work, his play quickly adjusted to the North American game and he was a big part of the Barracuda’s offense with 17 goals and 17 assists in 34 games. His play didn’t go unnoticed by the training staff as he has been called up to the Sharks rotating in and out of the lineup with 1 goal and 2 assists in 8 games and helping to somewhat transform the 4th line into a scoring threat. If the pending RFA is retained he will be a threat for the opening night roster next year.

#10 Maxim Letunov - C
Born: 2996-02-20 (21)
Nationality: Russian
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Acquired: Traded from Arizona for a 2017 3rd round pick (DET)
Current Team: University of Connecticut (NCAA/Hockey East)

Maxim Letunov was a nice pick up for Doug Wilson using the pick that he acquired from Detroit for Dylan Sadowy. Letunov was second in scoring, on a pretty mediocre Huskies team, only to fellow sophomore Tage Thompson who recently left to sign an entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues. While there are concerns with a prospect on his third team without playing pro-level there is a lot about Letunov that intrigues me.

For starters, with the Huskies not being very good, I would not be shocked to see Letunov decide to make the jump to the pros despite having to go to a very crowded Barracuda team. His scoring is down from last season's record-setting rookie campaign, but he still had a very respectable seven goals and 20 assists in 33 games. His 20 assists led the team. Letunov is going to have to bulk up a bit more as he is a little light for his 6’4” frame.

Hockey’s Future said the following about him:

Letunov is an offensively-gifted forward whose defensive game could use some work. He is quite lanky for his height and is not yet a reliable two-way player. He needs to add a significant amount of muscle mass while developing the physical side of his game. With one more year of junior hockey and potentially a four-year college career he should have time to address those areas. Letunov mixes a slick, sneaky wrist shot with an effective passing game in a slight frame.

#9 Mirco Mueller - D
Born: 03/21/1995
Nationality: Swiss
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Acquired: 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Mirco Mueller is probably one of the most divisive prospects in the Sharks system among fans now that Nikolay Goldobin has moved on to the Vancouver Canucks. His development was negatively affected by being thrown in the NHL too soon and given one of the toughest assignments on the Sharks blue line, being Brent Burns safety net. It has long been my opinion that he was put in a position where failure would be the only end result.

Mueller has shown improvement though on the AHL’s Barracuda this year, though, making some meaningful strides in his game. While the improvement has been less than I’d probably like to see, I have not written the young Swiss defenseman off. Defenseman can be notoriously slow to develop and may yet figure as an NHL middle pair defenceman. He is starting to use his size a bit more to his advantage which is a nice change but his biggest flaw is still his decision making where he takes too long to make a play or makes a bad play quickly.

#8 Noah Gregor - C
Born: 01/28/1998 (19)
Nationality: Canadian
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 183 lbs.
Acquired: 2016 NHL Entry Draft (4th round, 111th overall)
Current Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

At the time Noah Gregor to me was the best selection at the 2016 draft and a steal in the 4th round as he was projected as a 56 to 77 by most scouting services. I’m still pretty high on this prospect. Gregor is your typical Doug Wilson draft pick, a responsible two-way center with a solid 200-foot game and can skate well.

He will need to add to his frame as he can be pushed around by bigger forwards but the foundation for a solid pro-level game is there. He suffered a knee injury this season that caused him to miss some time but scored 25 goals and 32 assists in 49 games.

Zachary DeVine said the following in his January update:

Once again it looks like San Jose reached into the latter stages of the NHL entry draft and plucked a talented, responsible center who can play in a variety of situations and up and down the lineup. Gregor was a point-per-game player last year for Moose Jaw and is ahead of that pace already with the WHL's regular season over the halfway mark. The versatile pivot was the anchor on Moose Jaw's second line and was impressive in his defensive play as well as offensive ability once the play turned up ice. Gregor recently underwent a "minor" knee procedure stemming from an injury suffered Jan. 7 against the Regina Pats.

#7 Adam Helewka - LW
Born: 07/21/1995 (21)
Nationality: Canadian
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Acquired: 2015 NHL Entry Draft (4th round, 106th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Adam Helewka is a player that Sharks fans will love once they get to see him play. He’s an offensively skilled forward with a good shot, has a reputation of being a good leader and has no issues going into the dirty areas to retrieve pucks and score goals. While he was drafted as an overage player the most remarkable thing about his game was how mistake-free it can be. Last season Helewka was in the Memorial Cup hosting Red Deer Rebels scoring 3 goals and an assist in their four-game run at the tournament.

He has been an important part of the Barracuda after being assigned to Allen for a conditioning stint. He has 12 goals and 9 assists in 45 games. If you miss Ryane Clowe than Helewka is a guy that you will want to follow.