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Top 25 San Jose Sharks Under 25: No. 18 Noah Rod finally arrived, but will he stay?

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His future within the organization is very much up in the air.

Nearly three years after the San Jose Sharks selected him in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Swiss forward Noah Rod finally signed an entry-level contract with the team in March. Up to that point, Rod had played every game of his club career in Switzerland, suiting up for Genève-Servette HC each of the last four seasons.

Rod was far from a dynamic point producer in Sqitzerland, scoring just 37 points in 137 NLA games. 30 of those came in his last 71 games, which translates to about 0.18 points per game in the NHL, using Rob Vollman’s factors. Those numbers don’t jump off of the statsheet, but Rod’s skillset and style of play gave the Sharks reason to believe his game can translate to the North American ranks.

“He’s one of those guys, he would fit perfect in [Sharks Head Coach] Pete [DeBoer’s] system – pressure all over the ice, agitator who can score. He fits really well for us. We’re excited about him,” Sharks Director of Hockey Operations Doug Wilson Jr. told The Hockey News in February.

Rod played in seven games with the Barracuda, including five in the postseason, after signing his entry-level contract. He picked up his first (and so far only) professional point in North America on April 15 against Bakersfield. While Rod got a taste of the smaller rinks his game is supposedly well-suited for, it’s an open question whether or not he will get much more than that.

His entry-level contract comes into affect this season, but his deal contains a ‘European Assignment’ clause, meaning he can opt to return to Europe if he doesn’t make the NHL. Joonas Donskoi had such a clause, but Rod’s road to the NHL this season is much harder than Donskoi’s was in 2015-16. Since Rod signed his deal as a 20-year-old, his contract will not slide if he opts to return to Europe, according to Cap Friendly.

That means Rod will burn a year of his contract, regardless of whether he plays in North America next season. Moreover, Rod signed a contract extension with Genève-Servette in October. The deal contains an NHL out clause, but he’s under contract with the Swiss club until 2022, leaving the Sharks in a bit of a bind. If Rod’s good enough and continues to develop, he can eventually join the Sharks. If he’s not, the Sharks will have to rely on him continuing to develop overseas.

His ceiling is that of a bottom six forward, but it would be frustrating for San Jose to lose a player without the chance to develop him internally, outside of rookie and training camps, regardless of his skill level. It’s certainly possible he can continue to develop while playing in Switzerland, but his growth will largely be out of the Sharks’ hands should he exercise his ‘European Assignment’ clause.

Name: Noah Rod

Age (as of 9/9/17): 21

Position: C/RW

Last Year’s Ranking: 13

2015-16 Team: Genève-Servette HC

Where he’ll (probably) be next year: Genève-Servette HC

What we like

Defensive acumen and physical nature ready for play in North America.

What to improve on

Must continually developing offensive game if he’s to be a reliable bottom six contributor.

Highlight

There is no better way to score a shootout winner than pulling a Forsberg, as Rod did in December against EHC Kloten.