SAN JOSE – The Sharks don’t have a first round pick headed into the NHL draft in Buffalo this weekend. Their second round pick is second from the bottom, due to winning the Western Conference. After that one, they don’t have another pick until midway through the fourth round.
General manager Doug Wilson seems just fine with that. After all, trading away that first round pick to Boston last summer for Martin Jones looks like a brilliant move in hindsight, and in the previous two drafts the Sharks added 17 players, including five picks over the first two rounds.
If it’s a quiet weekend for the Sharks, beginning on Friday evening with the first round and concluding on Saturday, well, so be it.
“We’ve acquired a lot of players in the last couple of years and replenished our whole system,” Wilson said earlier this week. “This is a year if we do come out of it with five picks, I’m OK.”
Considering the Sharks don’t pick until 60th overall barring any trades to move up, Wilson indicated the organization would simply take the best player available. Scanning the system it would appear that defense is the biggest need, especially considering some of Mirco Mueller’s struggles in the minors this season, but the Sharks’ scouting staff might not have the luxury of targeting any one position that deep in the pool.
The Sharks have had some hits and misses picking around 60. Center Chris Tierney was chosen 55th overall in 2012 in one of the team’s better recent selections, while others like Taylor Doherty (57th overall in 2009) and Gabryel Boudreau (49th overall in 2013) were busts.
While none of the players the Sharks take this weekend will have any sort of impact on next year’s team, some of those picks from previous years may be ready to make a push this September. At the top of the list is Timo Meier, the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft who impressed immediately in camp last year with his size and skill.
Forwards Kevin Lebanc, Rourke Chartier and free agent signee Marcus Sorensen will be players to watch, too, as will defensemen Jeremy Roy. And there are the players in the system, like Mueller, Nikolay Goldobin and Barclay Goodrow, who all got some much-needed minor league seasoning this past year.
“Right now we’re pretty flush and pretty deep, and excited about the players we already have coming in,” Wilson said.
“They all want to have an opportunity. Some of them got a taste, some of them are coming in after having very successful years in junior or college or in Europe. That competition is a really good thing. It’s an influx of energy and youth, and I think our players welcome that.”
At the same time, the NHL free agency period opens on July 1, and Wilson was quick to follow up that praise of the Sharks’ prospects in the system by pointing out that the team is positioned to add from the outside if it so chooses.
With the NHL salary cap set at $73 million, the Sharks have approximately $60 million committed to 16 players next season, according to generalfanager.com. They still have restricted free agents Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto and Dylan DeMelo to ink, and a few more holes to fill up front and in the backup goalie spot, but they should have some space left over.
“I can’t say definitively that we’re not going to add some pieces because we have the ability to do that with cap space, and some really good assets,” Wilson said. “But, we do encourage our young guys to knock the door down and make this hockey team.”