Jabber Jaws: Mike Grier, Joe Will & Doug Wilson Jr. on Round 1

“We explored every avenue to make our team better, and our organization better. Nothing was off the table.”

The San Jose Sharks made a splash in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft by trading back their early-round pick for a decidedly later selection, collecting an additional two picks along the way.

General manager Mike Grier, assistant general manager Joe Will and director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. met with the media to discuss the trade, as well as their eventually selection, Filip Bystedt.

Here’s what they had to say:

Mike Grier

On the weight of the last day: It’s been a tough 24 hours or so. The group’s still feeling it, but I gotta give them a lot of credit. They rallied and got the work done and kind of pushed through it because I think we all felt that’s what Mush would want. He was so selfless and always wanted the best for everyone else. We thought it was best to power through and the staff did a great job.

On how the trade came together: We talked about it a little bit beforehand, but Doug and the staff did a good job of identifying players that we wanted and as the pick was coming around, those players were starting to become not available. We thought it was best to move back, get some value, and get a couple more picks. So we feel good about being in the position we are for tomorrow.

We explored every avenue to make our team better, and our organization better. Nothing was off the table. If there was a good, young NHL player that was available, we explored it. And staying at 11, we explored and we were prepared for. Moving back, we were prepared to do that, as well. We pretty much tried to exhaust every avenue, so we’d do what was best for the organization.

On why they went with Bystedt: He’s one of the players we were hoping would be [at 27th overall]. We just like his character, his make-up — a big centerman who can really skate, and has good habits in his game already as a youngster. Which, y’know, you lot at a lot of these 17-, 18-year-old kids, you’ve gotta kind of teach them a lot of habits and he’s already got the habits in his game. He’s one of the players we had identified as a possibility and we’re really excited that he was there.

On what conclusions to draw from the trade back: I think every draft is different. We thought there was good value there to move back. We’ll start building up the prospect pool even more than it is now and add some good players. We thought it was a good opportunity to do that. But I think every draft is different, every situation is different.

On the arena environment as a first-time general manager: It was great. We were talking about it at the table and then walking back — I guess this was the perfect place to start having an in-person draft again. The fans there were great, it was loud. There was a buzz in the building, with Montreal making a couple big moves, it was nice to see. When you’re in Montreal, you know you’re in a hockey town. It was pretty cool, and for it to be my first draft, I think it was a great place to be and experience it.

On expectations for trade talk with other GMs: I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest with you. We had a couple conversations with different people throughout the night, but I guess it was fairly normal. It was a good experience for me, I enjoyed it, and the staff did a great job.

On adding two second-round selections: I think the guys are excited. It’s their weekend. These guys are on the road, grinding, year-round, missing events with their family and time with their family, so this is their time. I think they were excited to have a couple more picks. And we believe we’ll have a shot at adding a couple more good players here right away tomorrow.

Joe Will

On if they won the trade: I think it helps. I mean, a couple things; number one, it’s very good value for [the 11th overall pick] to get three picks like that. And also, just in our prospect pool, we need players in different positions and different attributes. It helps us to really diversify and fill up the prospect pool as Mike alluded to.

On working through Bryan Marchment’s death: It was a tough day, for sure. I think it was actually easy to stay focused, ‘cause we talked as a group and said that’s honestly what Mush would’ve wanted us to do. He thrived being around the guys and being at the draft and anything hockey. He loved the draft, he was so into it. In his honor, it was actually quite easy to focus, but we miss the heck out of him right now.

On how the trade came together: It’s something we all worked together [on]. Doug [Wilson] and [Tim Burke] are focused on the players, Mike is focused on setting up all the different deals and then I will look at the charts on there, but it just has to all come together. You balance who might be available at a certain spot versus what you might get in a trade. Mike did a great job just calling around to teams and exploring the options.

When that came around, there were some other options on the table. There’s always selecting, there’s some other deals that you can do, but this one was very attractive. Just put us in a spot again, we felt there was good value and the ability to get multiple high-end players to fill up our prospect pool.

We were very excited about the day to begin with, because having nine picks and having number 11, and everything else on there, but those second-round picks are value, especially in the range we got ‘em — Mike got them in a high range, the first half of the second round. It worked out very well for us. To be able to pick in the first round and still have two high second-round picks — and then after that, have I think eight other picks, we’re extremely excited for tomorrow.

On the vibe of the floor: There were a few aggressive teams today. There was a little bit going on the floor today I think with some of the player deals and everything else too. And the pick deal, it was a little bit different than some with the three picks on there. We actually like it, it puts us in a great spot tomorrow, starting off right at the beginning of the second, we’re picking right away, and then not too long after that. We’re very excited about that.

Doug Wilson Jr.

On why Filip Bystedt was the right pick: He just caught our eye every time we were over there in Linköping. So Linköping, they won the championship at the J20 level, they beat Djurgårdens. He lined up against Eklund and Ohgren and Ostlund and those guys. He played a huge role on the Swedish National Team when they won Gold this year, too. It was attractive to us that Filip was an integral part, as big, skating centerman on a championship and a Gold Medal team this year. He was just one of those players who kept on catching our eye all year long, in a premium position with size and speed.

On how the trade came together: I just really appreciated our whole group effort and the trust level in our scouting. Every time we talked about picks, we always got more excited about the range we were trying to get into. It was a pocket of the draft that our guys identified that we really wanted to get into. It’s tough to move from 11 all the way down to get three picks, and to be able to do it as a group and to trust and all that, that’s what we’re super excited about. I can’t be more excited about our two early pick tomorrow, plus Filip.

I think if you ask any scout, they’ll say the more picks, the better.

*Lightly edited for clarity.