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Top 25 Under 25 Preview: The Undrafted

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The Sharks’ goaltending depth might hinge on two undrafted goaltenders.

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 15, 2019: SKA St Petersburg goaltender Alexei Melnichuk concedes a goal in their 2019/2020 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match against Jokerit Helsinki at the Ice Palace; SKA St Petersburg won 3-2. Photo by Anatoly Medved\TASS via Getty Images

While voting is open for Fear the Fin’s annual Top 25 San Jose Sharks Under 25 series, we’re going to familiarize you with the young players in the Sharks system. Working from the 2014 NHL Draft through the most recent draft, we’ll fill you in on each player’s history with the organization. They’ll be brief — the deep dive will happen with the top 25 players — but hopefully will assist with your voting process.

Part of what has kept the Sharks competitive is their ability to sign undrafted depth players, who sometimes go on to play a large role with the club. As we look at the Sharks’ prospect pool, there are a few undrafted players that fans are hoping do just that.

Jayden Halbgewachs, L/CW

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
NHL Debut: N/A
Nationality: CAN
Age: 23 | Ht: 5-8 | Wt: 161 | Shoots: L
ELC Signing Date: December 28, 2017

This scrappy forward is small, but his impact is pretty big. In two professional seasons with the San Jose Barracuda, Jayden Halbegewachs has put up back-to-back 35-point campaigns. Last year, he netted 19 goals for the club. The former Moose Jaw Warrior might see his first NHL game this season, as he continues to improve year-to-year.

Brinson Pasichnuk, D

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: Arizona State University (NCAA)
NHL Debut: N/A
Nationality: CAN
Age: 22 | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 185 | Shoots: L
ELC Signing Date: March 31, 2020

The former Arizona State University captain signed with the Sharks this spring, after initially getting passed over in his 2016 draft year. The defender took some big strides in his game with the NCAA club, more than doubling his points from his rookie season to senior year. His ceiling isn’t particularly high — perhaps a bottom-pairing defender at best — but he boasts a two-way game and could be a surprise in his first professional season this year.

Alex True, C

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
NHL Debut: 2019-20
Nationality: DEN
Age: 23 | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 201 | Shoots: L
ELC Signing Date: July 18, 2018

Alex True got his first shot with the big club last year, filling in for 12 NHL games where he tallied four assists. True has good hands, but only so-so feet, and was noted for being a particularly undisciplined player. He’s improved somewhat, certainly taking fewer penalties last season, but he’s unlikely to be more than a bottom-six player at the NHL level. He’s got a big camp ahead of him, where he’ll be hoping to earn a full-time role with the Sharks.

Danil Yurtaikin, LW/RW

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
NHL Debut: 2019-20
Nationality: RUS
Age: 23 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 165 | Shoots: R
ELC Signing Date: April 25, 2019

Danil Yurtaikin created quite a stir in last year’s preseason, scoring a lone goal against the Vegas Golden Knights, but his AHL play with a struggling San Jose Barracuda squad wasn’t particularly exciting. But the small forward is a flashy player and his frame makes him fast, something that Sharks could certainly use. His skill grants him a higher ceiling, and his versatility at wing gives him even more opportunity. Hopefully a second year in North America will remind us of that flash of a star we saw against Vegas.

Lean Bergmann, C/W

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
NHL Debut: 2019-20
Nationality: GER
Age: 22 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 205 | Shoots: L
ELC Signing Date: May 28, 2019

Much like True, German forward Lean Bergmann also spent twelve games with the Sharks this season, but unlike True, he didn’t seem to make much of it. Bergmann struggled in his limited time with the club, ending with the team’s worst Corsi for percentage at 40.66 percent, per Natural Stat Trick. As he adjusts to the skill level and past of the NHL, perhaps he could be a bottom-six contributor, but at 22 years old, he’ll need to find it quickly,

Nikolai Knyzhov, D

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
NHL Debut: 2019-20
Nationality: RUS
Age: 22 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 203 | Shoots: L
ELC Signing Date: July 2, 2019

Nikolai Knyzhov is known for being a large, stay-at-home defender. His point totals feel moot when talking about the defensive aspects he brings — Knyzhov is never going to rack up points, but he has focused on having a defensively responsible game. He made his KHL and NHL debuts in back-to-back seasons, which is reassuring for the 22-year-old, who is able to hold his own against grown men. In the small sample size of three games, Knyzhov did well.

Vladislav Kotkov, LW/RW

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
NHL Debut: N/A
Nationality: RUS
Age: 20 | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 209 | Shoots: R
ELC Signing Date: July 6, 2018

Vladislav Kotkov is going into his fourth year of juniors for the first time with a different team. In three years and 177 games with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, he’s posted 156 points. The Sharks got a deal on him, as Kotkov was ranked as high as the third round of the 2018 draft. The Russian winger is a big power forward, who is able to play on either side. He’s played one game with the Barracuda, getting in his first professional goal in 2019.

Josef Korenar, G

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
NHL Debut: N/A
Nationality: CZE
Age: 22 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 185 | Catches: L
ELC Signing Date: July 13, 2017

Josef Korenar is a Czech goaltender with NHL starter as his ceiling. Sharks fans might have been disillusioned with the goaltender after his AHL performance last season, but the Barracuda blueline wasn’t doing him a whole lot of favors. As the ‘Cuda starter, he’ll be first in line for a call up next season, should either of Martin Jones or Devan Dubnyk go down. At 22, he needs to find consistency and prove he can steal the team some games on his own.

Alexei Melnichuk, G

Eliteprospects

2019-20 Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
NHL Debut: N/A
Nationality: RUS
Age: 22 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 187 | Catches: L
ELC Signing Date: May 4, 2020

Russian goaltender Alexei Melnichuk was a huge signing for the Sharks coming off a year where goaltending tanked the team. Korenar and Melnichuk are the same age, but Korenar has the advantage of two professional seasons in North America. His numbers in Russia have been consistent and impressive, so fans are hopeful that he can adapt when he comes to North America, and maybe leapfrog Korenar in the process.