The Sharks’ Prospect Development camp will finish up tonight with the Prospects Scrimmage at the SAP Center, marking the unofficial end of the 2017-18 hockey calendar until the preseason gets underway in September. And while most fans’ focus at tonight’s game will be on high profile Sharks picks like Ryan Merkley and Rudolfs Balcers, there’s another group of players worth giving your attention to.
This year’s camp included 12 invitees, undrafted or unsigned players from the junior, college or semi-pro level looking to catch the eye of Doug Wilson and the rest of the Sharks’ management. Let’s take a look at the seven forwards, four defenseman and one goalie that are vying to earn a chance to play for Team Teal.
Justin Brazeau - RW, North Bay (OHL)
An overager for North Bay, Justin Brazeau posted a career high in goals and assists in 2017-18 to lead the Battalion in scoring with 75 points. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Brazeau will likely bring a big physical presence to camp, but is more likely fighting for a contract at the AHL or ECHL level.
Joe Gatenby - D, Univ. of New Brunswick (USports)
Another overage junior player, 21-year-old Joe Gatenby racked up 59 points for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers before finishing the season with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL, where he put up five points in six games. While he will be attending the Sharks’ camp, the Kelowna born defender has also already announced his commitment to the University of New Brunswick for 2018-19.
Thomas Gregoire - D, San Jose (AHL)
After leading the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix in points for two straight seasons, defensemen Thomas Gregoire earned a pro tryout with the Barracuda during their playoff series against the Tucson Roadrunners. While he didn’t end up playing in the series, the Cuda clearly liked what they saw and chose to sign him to a three-year AHL contract in May. If the 18 year-old makes another good impression at this week’s camp, he could bump his name up on the Cuda depth chart.
Jake Gricius - C, Portland (WHL)
Gricius made big strides in his sophomore year with the Winterhawks, scoring 24 points in 69 games while also making his presence known to opponents. The 18-year-old nearly tripled his penalty minutes from 14 in 2016-17 to 49 last year. Gricius may be more suited for a minor league depth role, so now’s a chance for him to catch the eye of the Barracuda’s management for an AHL/ECHL spot.
Bo Hanson - D, St. Lawrence (NCAA)
Bo Hanson is your classic shutdown defender; standing at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Hanson played 32 games for St. Lawrence University and kept opponents at bay in his own end of the ice throughout the season. The 20-year-old from Boise, Idaho also managed to post 11 points, fourth-best among St. Lawrence defensemen.
Vladislav Kotkov - FW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
After starting his junior career in his hometown of Moskva, Russia, Vlad Kotkov made the jump to the QMJHL last season and notched 49 points for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. At 18-years-old, Kotkov is certainly going to return to the Q for 2018-19, but his playmaking abilities have also peaked the interest of the Colorado Avalanche, who invited him to their camp last week. He’s sure to have the attention of San Jose management for that reason alone.
Keaton Middleton - D, Saginaw (OHL)
The younger brother of Sharks’ prospect Jacob Middleton, Keaton has captained the Saginaw Spirit for the past two seasons while scoring 58 points over 255 OHL games. Middleton was originally selected by the Maple Leafs in the fourth round back in 2016, but the Leafs chose to give up his rights back in June. Keaton is another one of the big body players invited to camp this week; the 20-year-old stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 234 pounds.
Tristan Mullin - FW, Cornell (NCAA)
Despite scoring at over a point-per-game pace in the BCHL, Tristan Mullin struggled to find the same success at the college level during his first season at Cornell. The 21-year-old forward from Cartwright, Manitoba recorded just six points in 26 games. Mullin’s chances of earning an NHL contract seem slim, but if he can find a way to get back his scoring prowess from his days as a Powell River King, he could end up being a nice addition at the minor league level.
Kohen Olischefski - RW, Denver (NCAA)
Another forward who made the jump to college from the BCHL is University of Denver’s Kohen Olischefski. After four seasons with the Chilliwack Chiefs, Olischefski made the jump to the NCAA and scored 11 points in 36 games during his freshman campaign. The 20-year-old Abbotsford product has already earned some valuable winning experience, as he and his Denver teammates went on to win the NCHC Championship in March.
Max Paddock - G, Regina (WHL)
Paddock was the lone mainstay in the Regina Pats’ crease, playing 33 games and posting a 19-7-1 record in a season where he was pegged as the backup. But after the Pats stumbled in a first round playoff exit, the Brandon, Manitoba native was given the reigns for Regina’s hosting of the Memorial Cup. Paddock’s solid .908 save percentage en route to the tournament final didn’t earn him a call at the NHL Draft last month, but his ability to overcome the odds could turn some heads in San Jose.
Ty Pelton-Byce - FW, Harvard (NCAA)
Pelton-Byce broke out during his sophomore season at Harvard, improving his point totals from jusy eigth in 2016-17 to 25 in 33 outings this year. Byce might be one of the older invitees, but with that age comes the experience of playing with the likes of Ryan Donato and Adam Fox. That opportunity, combined with his playmaking skills, could end up going a long way for his development.
Kyle Topping - C, Kelowna (WHL)
Topping played a huge role in the success of the Kelowna Rockets this year, finishing fifth in team scoring with 65 points alongside names like Cal Foote and Kole Lind. While Kelowna’s regular season dominance didn’t translate over to the playoffs, Topping’s scoring prowess still came through with another two goals and three assists during their short postseason run. The 18 year-old was shockingly not drafted in June, so the Sharks would be crazy not to take a serious look at the kid from Ganges, BC.
See these guys, along with Sharks draftees, at the Prospects Scrimmage tonight at SAP Center. Puck drops at 7 pm.