Sharks prospect Sean Kuraly is making quite an impression at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp this week in Lake Placid, NY.
Kuraly, a fifth round pick of the Sharks in 2010, leads the Americans with five goals, including one on Wednesday that put the United States up for good in a 5-2 win over Finland at Herb Brooks Arena.
NHL.coms Adam Kimelman caught up with Kuraly after the game, and paints a picture of a 19-year-old player who is seemingly putting all parts of his game together as he continues his development.
In 2010-11, his first season with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, he had eight goals in 51 games. He had opportunities to score more, but while his legs got him into wide-open spaces, he couldn't get his head or his hands to into the right position to put the puck in the net.
"He's always had that blinding speed," U.S. goalie Jon Gillies, a teammate the past two seasons with Indiana, told NHL.com. "He would have six or seven breakaways a game and he may have scored one of them his first year."
Kuraly said it was a question of getting all the facets of his game going the right way, which he was able to do when he returned to Indiana for the start of the 2011-12 season.
"The first year I got about six breakaways a game and I'd score once out of every four games," he said. "Last year I got two a game and buried maybe one a game. It all came together got everything on the same page -- my hands with my legs and my head. When it comes together, things slow down a little bit and you don't have to go 100 mph."
Kuralys line consists of Ottawa prospect Stefan Noesen, a first round pick in 2011, and Mario Lucia, a second round choice of the Minnesota Wild in 2011.
But its Kuralys hard work and all-around effort thats making the line go, according to head coach Phil Housley. In four games, the line has a combined nine goals and seven assists for 16 points.
While his NHL debut is likely still a few years away, if things continue to progress for him, Kuraly could join a long list of names drafted by the Sharks in the later rounds that have found professional success. Players like Joe Pavelski (7th round, 2003), Ryane Clowe (6th round, 2001), Douglas Murray (8th round, 1999) and Justin Braun (7th round, 2007) are the best examples of that on the current roster.
Kuralys USA squad plays Sweden on Thursday.