It’s probably not totally fair to Mike Grier to call the 2022 NHL Draft his first, though that’s also not to say he was unprepared. For a squad only fully assembled in the preceding days (not to mention dealing with an unexpected tragedy), the San Jose Sharks front office performed like a well-oiled machine.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that this was still a draft that was largely strategized without a permanent general manager in place. The picks were not made with the confident swings of the Doug Wilson era, and the much-more conservative draft than usual will likely produce steady results of forgettable role-players. It’s a draft that is decidedly average, but given the circumstances of this particular draft class missing development years to the pandemic, who knows how they’ll progress.
Most experts seem to agree that this draft class isn’t representative of the Sharks’ best work. Their early-round selections are favored over the later picks, with defender Michael Fisher earning a few mentions as a great pick-up.
Ultimately, every draft will be decided by development, but that seems especially true for San Jose’s 2022 class. Look no further than Filip Bystedt. The 6-foot-4 centre is a fluid skater with puck skills that project above-average across the board. Those aren’t common. But to make it, he’ll have to develop more projectable habits.
Cameron Lund, an inside-driven shooter with improved playmaking skills, will have to take his skating to another level. Michael Fisher, ranked inside EliteProspects’ top-45, is a long-term project masked with uncertainty because of his level of competition. Mattias Hävelid has all the skills needed to play a modern offensive role in the NHL, but requires skating and defensive refinement, along with cutting down the needless point shots.
Keeper in the draft, the Sharks added a skilled activator in Jake Furlong, a no-scoring BCHLer in Eli Barnett, and a duo of intriguing high-scorers who played low-level hockey in Joey Muldowney and Reese Laubach.
Filip Bystedt at 27 was a tad high for me overall by the Sharks, but I get what they were trying to do. In terms of pure upside he was easily top 20 in the draft and I appreciate the swing. There was a clear bet on tools in size and skating in this draft to go with the highly skilled undersized defenseman Mattias Havelid. I could see at least one quality regular from this class, and if either Bystedt or Cam Lund hit I think you’re getting a real player.
The Sharks’ four picks in Rounds 2, 3 and 5 were strong enough to give them a favourable review, even though I wasn’t crazy about the four they made in Rounds 4, 6 and 7. [...]
The Michael Fisher pick in the third round is an intriguing one, too. They’re clearly honing in on tools, athletic players as they try to build a pool of stronger, more physically-advanced players than the cluster of talented, 5-foot-10 puck possession kids they’ve drafted in recent years. Fisher wasn’t on my board, but he was one of the 10 prospects I wrote about in my missed cuts piece. He’s one of the best skaters and athletes in the draft. Give him some time to get reps and confidence against better competition than he has played against to date in the high school circuit and there could be some real upside there.
And Jake Furlong is a steady all-situations two-way defender who makes a clean first pass and plays the game with the maturity and intention players typically find later in their career.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Bystedt pick as I worry about his offensive upside despite his size and speed combination, but it was clear the Sharks wanted to build up some size in their system. Second-rounder Cam Lund is an especially intriguing prospect who has the size and skill combo to project very favorably. Meanwhile, Mattias Havelid is one of the best offensive defensemen in this class on a pure skill basis and Michael Fisher is one of the best prep players in the U.S. this season. All four of their first picks were on my Top 100. There were a lot of swings on upside late in the draft as there should be and I think Jake Furlong who was picked 140th could be a really solid value bet.
Hired only days before the draft, no one will hold this one against Mike Grier. Filip Bystedt was a questionable first-round pick. He has the tools to prove people wrong, but there were safer picks available. Perhaps the Sharks are those who dare to be bold. Cameron Lund was a nice selection in Round 2, and the Sharks used their other second-round pick on Mattias Havelid, one of the most skilled defenders in the draft. Havelid has sky-high upside, only overshadowed by his 5-foot-9 frame. The good news for Sharks fans is this class could turn to a B+ if Bystedt, or a few other high-risk, high-reward picks hit.
The Sharks added depth down the middle and on the blue line in the draft. Bystedt is a big Swedish centre who uses his long reach and strong stickhandling ability to protect the puck and create offence. He is able to control the puck down low and wait for his linemates to get open. Once they do, Bystedt is able to hit his teammates with a pass. He also has a good shot. Lund has the potential to develop into a two-way middle-six centre if he reaches his potential. With his size, skating, work ethic, and defensive awareness, he will quickly become a coach’s favourite no matter where he plays. However, there are still some questions about his offensive potential. Havelid is undersized but has the type of dynamic skating that allows him to cover a ton of ice and play a very effective two-way game. He brings offence and playmaking from the backend.