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Sharks top 20 Prospects 6-1

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Ian Reid breaks down part 3 of his annual top 20 prospect rankings

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks Photo by Ezra Shaw/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 parts of the list: 20-14 / 13-7 / 6-1

#6 Dylan DeMelo
Born: 05/01/1993 (23)
Nationality: Canadian
Shoots: Right
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Acquired: 2011 NHL Entry Draft (6th round, 179th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Sharks (NHL)

Dylan DeMelo just slides under the criteria to be considered a prospect as he is 23 with only 65 games played. DeMelo filled in well as the 7th defenseman for the Sharks this season despite having considerable gaps between games and also suffering an injury this year.

He won’t do much to wow you, but he could break into a 4-6 spot on a few other NHL rosters. I think there is still room for growth in his game but he is absolutely an NHL defenseman. DeMelo is a good skater, sees the ice well and can make a good first pass.

#5 Rourke Chartier - C/LW

Born: 04/03/1996 (20)
Nationality: Canadian
Shoots: Left
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Acquired: 2014 NHL Entry Draft (5th round, 149th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Chartier is yet another in a long list of successful late round picks for Doug Wilson. He’s a player that continues to surpass my expectations. I think the most intriguing thing about Chartier is that there is nothing exceptional about his game. Don’t take that as a negative though as Chartier has easily the most well-rounded game in the Sharks prospect system.

He makes sound plays and makes whoever he is playing with better and has excellent awareness and vision. In 54 games with the Barracuda this year he has scored 14 goals and 15 assists.

In 2014-15 he was the final cut from Canada’s entry into the IIHF World Junior Championships (U-20). That same year he helped lead his team to the WHL Championship on a line that featured Leon Draisaitl (EDM) and Nick Merkley (AZ).

He scored 48 goals and 38 assists in 58 regular season games. Chartier followed it up with 13 goals and seven assists in 16 playoff games and added an additional two goals and two assists in five Memorial Cup games where they finished as the runner-up to the Oshawa Generals.

The following season Chartier made Team Canada and was deployed in just about every situation, impressing the coaching staff even though the team's final results left something to be desired.

#4 Joakim Ryan - D
Born: 06/17/1993 (23)
Nationality: Swedish
Shoots: Left
Height: 5’11
Weight: 185 lbs.
Acquired: 2012 NHL Entry Draft (7th round, 198th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Stop me if you have read this before, but Doug Wilson is pretty good at finding gems in the later rounds of the draft. Joakim Ryan is the most complete defenseman in the Sharks system not playing in the NHL today. With all due respect to Tim Heed, I’d rank Ryan first amongst Barracuda defenders. Ryan is the prototypical two-way defender who can be deployed in any situation, has excellent awareness and rarely makes significant mistakes.

The knock on Ryan is always going to be his size, which will cause some people to write him off right away. He can play bigger than he is at times and is excellent with his stick which makes up for some of his physical shortcomings. In the offensive zone, he is a great passer and has a good shot that is stuck in the shadow of Heed. In 52 games this season he has scored 7 goals and 28 assists in what is already a career year for the 23-year-old. Ryan would be my choice to be a candidate to play alongside Brent Burns on the Sharks blue line should Paul Martin be taken in the expansion draft.

#3 Danny O’Regan - C/LW
Born: 01/30/1994 (23)
Nationality: American/German dual citizen
Shoots: Right
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Acquired: 2012 NHL Entry Draft (5th round, 138th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Danny O’Regan was always an interesting prospect for me because it’s rare that an NHL team will leave a player who puts up the numbers that O’Regan had at Boston University for their full four years. Boston University has a solid hockey program and O’Regan played with players like Jack Eichel. However, O’Regan has proven this year with the Barracuda that he was no passenger during his college years.

O’Regan leads the Barracuda, and all AHL Rookies, in points with 50. He has scored 19 goals and 31 assists. He is scoring at a 0.96 points-per-game average and is by far the best center on the team. Head coach Roy Sommer deploys O’Regan in all situations and uses him to get slumping Barracuda players back on track. O’Regan’s play never drops off regardless of who gets taken off his line to play for the Sharks.

#2 Timo Meier - RW
Born: 10/08/1996 (20)
Nationality: Swiss
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 212 lbs.
Acquired: 2015 NHL Entry Draft (1st round, 9th overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Timo Meier is a versatile forward who can be deployed in a variety of situations, can add a scoring punch to an offensive line and can bring a responsible but sandpaper game to a shutdown line. He’s got great size and decent vision. While some have been disappointed with his transition to the pro game they would be foolish to write him off as he has all the tools to be a huge star in San Jose.

In his final season in the Q, he helped lead the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a QMJHL championship by scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in 18 playoff games. In the Memorial Cup Tournament, he contributed another 5 goals and 3 assists in 5 games. The Huskies would come up short in the championship game losing in overtime to maybe the best Junior hockey team ever assembled in the London Knights.

As mentioned there have been bumps in the road in his transition to the pro game. Fortunately, these are things that can be fixed by coaching. Meier can at times be overly aggressive and take ill-advised penalties but when he chooses his spots he is a punishing forward to play against.

Meier has an excellent shot but his shot selection is questionable at best right now. There is still a lot of Jr. Hockey in his game which sees him try to blow pucks through goalies from places that just won’t work even in the AHL as well as it did prior in the QMJHL. These issues will be corrected with coaching and time so Timo Meier is still a player that Shark fans should be very excited about.

#1 Kevin Labanc - LW
Born: 12/12/1995 (21)
Nationality: American
Shoots: Right
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Acquired: 2014 NHL Entry Draft (6th round, 171st overall)
Current Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

There is a lot to like about Kevin Labanc. After winning the OHL scoring title last year with 39 goals and 88 assists in 65 regular season games I tried to temper my expectations. Many guys explode in their overage junior year and cannot transition that scoring touch to the pro game. His skating has improved every year since his being drafted, but that was his the biggest question mark about his game entering this season.

Of course, Labanc shocked everyone after a hot start with the Barracuda and became a nearly permanent fixture on the NHL squad. Even when he wasn’t scoring his play led to offensive chances. Labanc is a hard worker with an excellent shot, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and is tough to get off the puck. He scored seven goals and 12 assists in 49 games with the Sharks and another six goals and 12 assists in 14 games with the Barracuda where he is currently assigned.

I’m not sure if Labanc will return to the big club this year, but I don’t think anyone should be disappointed if he doesn’t. He is by all accounts ahead of schedule in his development and will be a big part of this team going forward as the veterans will be forced to give way to the youth of this franchise.