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The Athletic ranks Sharks pool of under-22 players No. 28 in NHL

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Corey Pronman released his annual rankings and has San Jose eight spots lower than he did in 2019.

After years of being a contender, the San Jose Sharks’ prospect pool is depleted as general manager Doug Wilson looks to retool the roster ahead of the 2020-21 season. The Sharks were had a down year, and unfortunately do not own their own first-round pick, which went to the Ottawa Senators in the Erik Karlsson deal.

The pick the Sens got from San Jose will be the third selection of the 2020 NHL Draft, costing the Sharks an opportunity to add a high-end young talent that the system desperately needs.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic released his annual rankings of each NHL clubs’ under-22 players, and has San Jose at No. 28.

“The Sharks extended their contending window as long as they did on the backs of consistently getting incredible value from players who didn’t cost a lot. That worked for a while but it can only work for so long. The Sharks’ system right now still has some value acquisitions. John Leonard looks like a heck of a sixth-round pick. Later round picks like Sasha Chmelevski, Noah Gregor and Joachim Blichfeld look like they could play. College free agent Brinson Pasichnuk is intriguing. The system however lacks a real top-end talent or two, even if that player could arguably be defenseman Ryan Merkley.”

Pronman has Merkley ranked as the best youngster in the Sharks’ system. The 2018 first-round pick put up big numbers with the London Knights in the OHL, racking up 76 points in 60 games before the CHL season was shutdown due to the pandemic. Although his offensive numbers are fantastic, there are some questions about his character. Knights’ head coach and former NHL’er Dale Hunter says those concerns are unfounded, noting how much Merkley’s teammates enjoy the 20-year-old’s sense of humor and leadership in the locker room.

Here is how Pronman ranks the top five prospects in San Jose’s system: 1) Merkley, 2) LW John Leonard, 3) D Mario Ferraro, 4) C Alexander Chmelevski, 5) RW Joachim Blichfeld.

San Jose owns the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first-round selection in the upcoming draft, which will fall somewhere towards the end of the round, depending on the results of the NHL playoffs. The Sharks own a pair second-rounders in 2020, and own their own 2021 first-round pick as of now.

Other than Merkley, which under-22 prospect are you most excited about in San Jose’s sysem?