Sharks end up with 9th overall pick after lottery, should consider trading down

Russian defenseman Ivan Provorov is one of several prospects the Sharks will likely be able to choose from should they keep the 9th pick.

It was fun while it lasted but the Connor McDavid dream is dead in San Jose. The Erie Otters center and uber-prospect will be heading to Edmonton by virtue of their draft lottery win today while the Sharks now own the 9th overall pick, the highest selection they've had in the entry draft since taking Logan Couture in that very spot in 2007. And while there are several tantalizing prospects that project to be available at that pick number, the Sharks should strongly consider trading down in the first round if it can net them an extra second round pick in a deep draft year where they currently hold just two top-90 selections.

McDavid, Boston University center Jack Eichel, Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin and OHL scoring leaders Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner comprise one of the strongest groups of top five prospects in recent draft history but there's a significant drop-off after that group. From 6th overall through the end of the first round, there isn't a ton of agreement among scouts and other observers on which prospects will go where and it isn't difficult to see why.

While draft year production isn't the end-all be-all of projecting prospects, with size, raw tools and quality of development all playing a factor in what these 18-year-olds will eventually turn into, it's generally a solid indicator of prospect talent level and a useful way to compare between them.

Using an age-adjustment model developed by Rhys Jessop it's possible to correct for the advantages players born earlier in the draft year have over their younger peers and NHL equivalency rates allow us to compare prospects across leagues by estimating how many points their draft year production would roughly translate to over a full 82-game season at the NHL level. Here's how draft-eligible forwards the Sharks will have a chance to select 9th overall, as well as later on in the first round, stack up in terms of age-adjusted draft year points-per-game and their age-adjusted NHL equivalency point total, sorted by their overall rank in Central Scouting's final 2015 draft rankings.

Player Team Height Weight Central Scouting rank Age-adjusted points per game Age-adjusted NHLe/82
Mikko Rantanen TPS (Liiga) 6'3" 211 1 (EUR) 0.40 18
Pavel Zacha Sarnia (OHL) 6'3" 210 8 (NA) 0.84 21
Timo Meier Halifax (QMJHL) 6'1" 208 10 (NA) 1.21 28
Matt Barzal Seattle (WHL) 5'11" 175 11 (NA) 1.23 30
Kyle Connor Youngstown (USHL) 6'1" 177 13 (NA) 1.22 27
Travis Konecny Ottawa (OHL) 5'10" 174 14 (NA) 1.02 25
Jansen Harkins Prince George (WHL) 6'0" 177 15 (NA) 1.07 26
Evgeny Svechnikov Cape Breton (QMJHL) 6'2" 199 17 (NA) 1.18 27
Daniel Sprong Charlottetown (QMJHL) 6'0" 189 20 (NA) 1.17 27
Nick Merkley Kelowna (WHL) 5'10" 191 23 (NA) 1.18 29
Anthony Beauvillier Shawnigan (QMJHL) 5'11" 173 33 (NA) 1.34 31

Barzal, Connor and Meier are all fantastic prospects (although the latter's numbers are certainly juiced a bit by playing alongside Jets blue-chipper Nikolaj Ehlers) that the Sharks won't have a shot at if they trade down from 9th but the likes of Svechnikov, Sprong and even Merkley don't appear to be significantly worse bets to become impact NHL forwards and all three should be available late in the first round.

The point here is that, once Strome and Marner are off the board, the very next forward selected isn't likely to be much better than some of the forwards available late in the first. This is a deep draft with a lot of parity in forward prospect value after the big four up front. If the Sharks are looking to take a forward in round one, trading down ten to fifteen slots if it allows them to pick up another second rounder to grab two of the many promising defensemen projected to be available in that round would be a good idea. If they're looking to bolster their blueline in round one, it's a similar story:

Player Team Height Weight Central Scouting rank Age-adjusted points per game Age-adjusted NHLe/82
Oliver Kylington Farjestad (SHL) 6'0" 180 6 (EUR) 0.27 17
Zachary Werenski Michigan (NCAA) 6'2" 206 6 (NA) 0.71 24
Ivan Provorov Brandon (WHL) 6'0" 191 10 (NA) 0.96 24
Jakub Zboril St. John (QMJHL) 6'1" 184 11 (NA) 0.72 18
Jeremy Roy Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 6'0" 189 23 (NA) 0.91 22
Ryan Pilon Brandon (WHL) 6'2" 206 31 (NA) 0.71 17
Mitchell Vande Sompel Oshawa (OHL) 5'10" 182 33 (NA) 1.04 26
Noah Juulsen Everett (WHL) 6'2" 175 38 (NA) 0.74 18
Nicolas Meloche Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) 6'3" 202 45 (NA) 0.76 19
Vince Dunn Niagara (OHL) 6'0" 182 53 (NA) 0.77 19
Rasmus Andersson Barrie (OHL) 6'0" 210 84 (NA) 0.89 22

Werenski, Provorov and arguably Kylington are a cut above the rest, and it's possible one of the former two is already gone by #9, but moving into the 18-22 range to grab someone like Jeremy Roy looks like a good bet to make if it allows the Sharks to not only draft a defenseman like Pilon, Meloche or Dunn in the second round but a forward who could fall into the late-30s range like Beauvillier or Svechnikov as well.

All this is predicated on finding a team interested in giving up a second round pick to move up in the first, of course, but the Sharks were able to significantly improve their second round draft position last year merely by trading down from 20th to 27th when they realized one of several quality forward prospects would still be on the board at that pick. Getting a team to cough up a second rounder to move into the top ten this year shouldn't be difficult. If it doesn't work out, the Sharks can keep the pick and have a chance at adding a future top-pairing defenseman in Werenski or Provorov or a future top-six center like Barzal or Rantanen to their steadily improving prospect pool. It might not be first overall, but it's a good position to be in heading into June's draft.