The San Jose Sharks had a very busy Draft. There were reaches, potential steals, and plenty of (small) trades. Sierra asked some pressing questions after the Draft, and five of us did our best to answer.
Do you think the Sharks drafted the best available player with each selection?
East Bay Ry: Ask me again in five years. If you want my opinion today, then the answer is clearly no. In the first round, Yamamoto, Tolvanen, and Kostin all appear to be better prospects than Norris.
Evan Arnold: The Sharks did deviate from the central scouting rankings and go off the board for their first-round pick. Joshua Norris is still a very solid pick, but a curious one when you consider that players like Kailer Yamamoto and Kristian Vesalainen were still on the board at that time.
Doug Wilson and the scouting team must have seen something in Norris that would make them deem him, in their eyes, a better player, however it’s very hard for me to pass up picking a huge scoring threat like Yamamoto. I can’t help but feel like this first round was a letdown for the Sharks.
KyleDemetrius: The Sharks absolutely did not draft the best available player. Eeli Tolvanen was a top end of the draft talent that fell. Teams who have sustained high level success find these types of situations and exploit it. Instead it seemed the Sharks fell in love with their own board and passed on the best available talent. Tolvanen, Yamamoto, Kostin and others would have given the Sharks potential game breakers in the farm system that could start to offset the loss of hall of fame talent in Joe and Patty. Even if some of the players may not have fit the current system, you take high level talent and make it work. By all accounts, the Sharks reached for players that could have been available later. The first and maybe the second round is where you find the explosive game changers. You have to take swings at them when you can. By drafting a future third line centre you are eliminating the chance of finding high level NHL talent.
Marcus White: Not in the first two rounds, nor at the time of selection, at least. Seeing Yamamoto slip to Edmonton stings, as does seeing Kostin selected with the 31st overall pick. The latter, in particular, appears to have been a missed opportunity to trade down and get more picks. But, if the Sharks were dead set on Norris and Ferraro, they also feel like trade-down opportunities, given where most scouts had them. I think the Sharks did a better job of selecting the best player available as the draft went on.
Sierra Morley: There were better players available in the first round. Kailer Yamamoto being available at that point in the draft made the Josh Norris pick seem even more out of place, but I think Wilson picked the best player for the Sharks' system.
Were the trades to move up to select Scott Reedy and Alexander Chmelevski worth it?
East Bay Ry: Ask me again in five years. My answer today, is no. It is extremely rare that moving up pays off (unless you are moving into the top five overall). Guys drafted on the second day are lottery tickets: the more you have, the more likely one is to pay off. From what I've read, I do like Chmelevski, and think he could be a steal. I'm not excited about Reedy.
Evan Arnold: Compared to the firepower of Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, this draft class lacked a big-name generational talent. Further, we’ve heard a multitude of analysts warn of this class’ lack of depth. If Reedy and Chmelevski were high up on Wilson’s draft board, I think it was worth the risk to move up and get them. Without a reasonable depth of promising players in the later rounds, I agree that moving some of the later picks to get the prospect you want was a prudent choice.
KyleDemetrius: The trades to move up were not worth it. It is hard to evaluate talent after the third round, as luck starts playing a larger role in a player becoming a Pavelski or Datsyuk. So to move up and give up assets to take a swing on a guy seems foolish, especially when you can find similar profile players littered trough the late rounds.
Marcus White: I think so. Both players slid significantly, at least based on analysis leading up to the Draft (both were in ISS Hockey's top 75 prospects). The Sharks had a lot of late picks, and I think trading up for players that the organization was high on that slipped in the later rounds is a wise approach.
Sierra Morley: Reedy, absolutely. It's very likely he would've been taken in those twenty picks between the Sharks' original pick and the one used to draft him. He shouldn't have still been available at 102, there's no way he'd still be there at 123. He's a player I'm excited about.
Chmelevski is a player worth trading up for, but I don't see how the Sharks felt the need to do it. Frankly, I don't understand the Sharks wanting to draft McGrew before drafting Chmelevski
How well did San Jose fill its organizational needs?
East Bay Ry: Ask me again in five years. Today I say, not well. The organization is well stocked with solid depth players, but no potential game breakers. Chmelevski and Checkovich might wind up being that type of player, but I'm not optimistic.
Evan Arnold: Given the San Jose’s strong organizational depth on the blue line, the focus going into this draft should have been on selecting the next generation of Sharks forwards. In the end, the Sharks came away with 6 selections, only one of which was a defenseman. Taking this into consideration, it appears the Sharks have taken the first step toward building up their young group of forwards.
Depth down the middle will be a big concern for the Sharks moving forward, and the Sharks selected two centers to address this need. We’ve seen scoring dry up a little bit this past year, and the flashy wingers the Sharks selected could provide much needed goal relief in the future.
KyleDemetrius: This was a classic Doug Wilson draft. Solid, hard working guys who top out at third line or low pairing players. San Jose is already FILLED with these guys. As much as we all love Cobra, O'Regan, Carpenter, etc these guys aren't elite talent. They are excellent complimentary pieces for a championship team but you cannot win a cup with a team of Tierneys. So San Jose basically added more of the same to their system, granted the system is fairly strong right now.
Marcus White: Yes and no. Positionally, I think the organization largely addressed its needs, especially up front. Given the struggles of some of the goaltenders, I would have liked to maybe see a goaltender drafted, but the Sharks have done a good job identifying undrafted players there. I don't think the concerns about top-end talent were addressed, however. Given the players still available after the Sharks selected Morris, that's disappointing.
Sierra Morley: There's a good mix of forwards who are comfortable playing both at center and on the wing. Ferraro's development will be one to keep an eye on, but the Sharks have a decent crop of young defensemen waiting in the wings already. Drafting three NCAA commits allows for development outside of the Sharks' pipeline, which is pretty full at the moment.
What should they have done differently?
East Bay Ry: Draft Yamamoto, Tolvanen, or Kostin in the first round. Norris is a safe pick, but taking the safe pick is how teams wind up taking Jake Virtanen over William Nylander.
Evan Arnold: This draft felt very underwhelming for the Sharks. On a weekend dominated by blockbuster trades, the Sharks stood pat and selected their players and walked away quietly. While Norris might prove to be a rock down the middle of the ice one day, I feel like the Sharks missed a big opportunity in the first round to find themselves an exciting scorer. Norris might have been a safe and solid pick for Doug Wilson, but those seats at SAP Center don’t sell themselves— and nothing puts people in the seats quite like a flashy scorer.
KyleDemetrius: What should they have done differently? Take. Game. Breaking. Talent. It doesn't matter if they are small, falling down the board, need defensive work, aren't the fastest skaters and so on. You need to have high level talent eventually, so passing on the potential of finding a 35 goal guy for a solid, #PlaysTheRightWay guy every single draft does not set you up for future high level success. Having Thornton and Marleau has masked a lot of the misses in the draft because they are so good they fill the gaps. But now that they are leaving, you need to replace that somehow and by taking 3rd line guys constantly does not help that.
Marcus White: That's a difficult question to answer now. As of now, though, I think the Sharks should have taken one of the previously mentioned players in the first round. San Jose's had no problem drafting undersized players in the late rounds, and some are currently knocking on the door for a roster spot. It would have been nice to see them do so in the first round and draft Yamamoto. Similarly, the organization drafted an injured McGrew, why not an injured Kostin in the first? Both players would have taken time to develop, just as the NCAA-bound Norris (and Ferraro) will. The Sharks have a glut of potential middle-to-bottom six forwards, so picking another one in the first round is a head-scratcher.
Sierra Morley: I'm a fan of the Norris pick, so I wouldn't have changed out first round. I wouldn't have drafted McGrew at 159. I'd have taken Chmelevski with that pick and kept both seventh rounders. I'd then focus on getting Chekovich at 205, leaving us with 212 to take McGrew and an additional pick at 214.
I just don't believe that many teams were interested in McGrew. He hasn't even played at the WHL level yet. His ceiling doesn't look very high from here and as home-grown talent, he likely wasn't on too many other radars. He would've been available early in the seventh round, but if he had slipped through our fingers between picks, I don't see him as a major loss. Focusing on drafting him earlier than necessary put us in a position to throw away another pick in a needless trade.