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NHL Mock Draft 2018: San Jose Sharks select Ryan Merkley with No. 21 pick

WINDSOR, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Defenceman Ryan Merkley #6 of the Guelph Storm is escorted to the penalty box during a game against the Windsor Spitfires on September 24, 2017 at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

With yet another late pick, thanks to the Sharks always being just good but never quite good enough, we initially approached this pick thinking it’d be a bit of a wash — so why not trade down? Let’s face it, Doug Wilson isn’t the best at his first round picks, and with plenty of good players still on the board, moving down a few picks in exchange for an extra pick later in the draft didn’t seem like a half-bad deal.

Unfortunately, our friends in SB Nation asked for too much in a trade that involved us moving down in the draft and we ultimately stuck with the Sharks’ 21st overall pick.

Here’s how the Mock Draft has gone so far:

  1. Buffalo Sabres, via Die By The Blade, select defenseman Rasmus Dahlin
  2. Carolina Hurricanes, via Canes Country, select forward Andrei Svechnikov
  3. Montreal Canadiens, via Eyes On The Prize, select forward Filip Zadina
  4. Ottawa Senators, via Silver Seven, select defenseman Quinn Hughes
  5. Arizona Coyotes, via Five For Howling, select forward Brady Tkachuk
  6. Detroit Red Wings, via Winging It In Motown, select defenseman Adam Boqvist
  7. Vancouver Canucks, via Nucks Misconduct, select defenseman Noah Dobson
  8. Chicago Blackhawks, via Second City Hockey, select forward Oliver Wahlstrom
  9. New York Rangers, via Blueshirt Banter, select defenseman Evan Bouchard
  10. Edmonton Oilers, via Copper & Blue, select forward Martin Kaut
  11. Washington Capitals, via Japers’ Rink (and a trade* with the Islanders), select forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi
  12. New York Islanders, via Lighthouse Hockey, select defenseman Ty Smith
  13. Colorado Avalanche, via Mile High Hockey (and trades* with the Flyers and Stars), select forward Joe Veleno
  14. Dallas Stars, via Defending Big D (and a trade* with the Flyers), select forward Joel Farabee
  15. Florida Panthers, via Litter Box Cats, select defenseman Bode Wilde
  16. Philadelphia Flyers, via Broad Street Hockey (and trade* with the Avalanche), select forward Rasmus Kupari
  17. New Jersey Devils, via All About the Jersey, select forward Barrett Hayton
  18. Columbus Blue Jackets, via The Cannon, select forward Isac Lundstrom
  19. Philadelphia Flyers, via Broad Street Hockey, select forward Vitaly Kravstov
  20. Los Angeles Kings, via Jewels from the Crown, select defenseman K’Andre Miller

Trades: New York Islanders traded the 11th pick to Washington Capitals in exchange for the 31st pick and Phillipp Grubauer.

Dallas Stars traded the 13th pick to Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the 14th pick and Petr Mrazek.

Philadelphia Flyers traded the 13th pick and the 127th pick to Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the 16th pick and the 58th pick.

And now, with the 21st overall pick, the San Jose Sharks select defenseman Ryan Merkley of the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm.

Merkley doesn’t feel much like a Wilson pick, but maybe that’s a good thing. The 17-year-old Ontario native is widely considered a high risk, high reward prospect. He’s one of the youngest players in this draft class, which makes his 67 points in 63 games with the Storm last season all the more exciting.

At 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, he’s not an overwhelming defensive presence, but that’s not what makes Merkley a risky choice. Here’s what All About the Jersey compiled on the rumors of his behavioral issues:

However, I cannot say there were no issues in Guelph. Especially when this benching took place in the middle of an OHL season where Guelph needed points to make the playoffs (they did).Based on this March 2, 2018 in Guelph Today by Tony Saxon, Merkley has had outbursts on the ice at points over two seasons, he’s been benched for “injury” and promptly gave his team a reason to sit him again as healthy upon his return. While dated earlier on February 26, this Guelph Mercury article by Paul Osborne noted some more detail about that return game:Merkley got his misconduct from arguring with the referee, his was sat as a healthy scratch while other players were out, and Burnett made some comments implying that the issue is all up to Merkley. On top of all of that, Merkley was punished with a three-game suspension after taking a two-handed slash to a North Bay player after he lost the puck on February 4. While only five potential games were missed, when one looks at all of it together and it is clear why his attitude and character are concerns as well as the word “polarizing” tends to be associated with his prospects. Guelph’s GM and head coach, George Burnett, has been working in junior hockey for over 20 years. I’m going to presume he’s seen pretty much everything at this point. At least a lot. So when he’s benching a player for issues; I don’t think the issue is with him.

If Merkley is able to grow and mature, and is drafted by a team and a system he fits into, he could turn into something special, and maybe the Sharks are that perfect storm of circumstances.