2021-22 Top 10 San Jose Sharks Prospects

The Sharks have been one of the better teams in the NHL for many years and a Stanley Cup contender as well. As the core of Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson, and Brent Burns are on the back nine of their career and some serious questions in goal, the team is poised to enter the rebuild era.

The Sharks will miss the post-season this year and will receive a lottery pick for the 2022 draft. The team has traded away a first or second-round selection in four of the past six drafts and traded away first-round pick in the Erik Karlsson trade, which ended up being Josh Norris.

The Sharks need to improve their scouting and player development as there have been some selections that failed to develop in recent and past drafts including Dylan Gambrell (60th overall in 2016), Jeremy Roy (31st overall in 2015), Nikolay Goldobin (27th overall in 2014), Julius Bergman (46th overall in 2014), Micro Mueller (18th overall in 2013), and Gabryel Boudreau (49th overall in 2013)

  1. William Eklund, LW – Djurgardens IF (SHL)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 5-10/181
Drafted: 2021 round one, seventh overall by San Jose Sharks

The Sharks highest draft selection since Milan Michalek was selected sixth overall in 2003, Eklund instantly becomes the organization’s top prospect. Eklund is a creative and skilled forward, he skates well, has excellent vision and hockey sense and plays a hard defensive game as well.

Considered one of the more NHL-ready prospects from the 2021 draft because he played pro in his draft year in the SHL as an 18-year-old receiving the SHL Rookie of the Year Award and scoring the most goals by a junior in the SHL with 11 markers.

Eklund made the Sharks to begin the season and scored four points in nine games before being loaned back to Djurgardens for more development time in his homeland. Eklund projects as a top-six winger in the NHL and the Sharks are hoping he can develop into a two-way player like fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg

  1. Thomas Bordeleau, C – University of Michigan (NCAA)

Age: 20
Ht/Wt: 5-11/181
Drafted: 2020 round two, 38th overall by San Jose Sharks

Bordeleau had a very successful D+1 season as a freshman with the Wolverines racking up 30 points in 24 games and being named the NCAA Top Rookie. Bordeleau is a highly skilled and creative offensive player. More of a playmaker than a sniper but he does own a wide array of shooting options in his arsenal.

His sophomore season with the loaded Wolverines is equally impressive with a point per game production and he is a likely candidate to turn pro at the conclusion of the season, which is expected to be after the frozen four tournament. Bordeleau lacks the ideal size for a first-line NHL center but has top-six offensive upside.

  1. Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 5-10/185
Drafted: 2020 round one, 31st overall by San Jose Sharks

The final first-round selection of the 2020 draft was a memorable one as Sharks GM Doug Wilson made the selection in sign language in homage to his single mother who is deaf. Ozzy is one of four hockey playing brothers, Ocean and Orca are his older brothers while Oasiz is the youngest.

After his memorable draft, the WHL was on hold, so Wiesblatt made his pro debut playing in six games with the Barracuda and scoring a goal and three points When the dub resumed, Wiesblatt was returned to the Prince Albert Raiders scoring 28 points in 23 games. In his final season, he is producing around a point per game and next year should play in the AHL for a full season of pro development.

Wiesblatt is a powerful skater with an explosive first step and a high-end top gear and a non-stop motor. He is an aggressive forechecker and strong player but could play a little more dirty or aggressive. Wiesblatt is dangerous offensively off the rush and can create momentum off of the cycle. He competes defensively as well and has the upside to develop into a versatile third-line winger in the NHL.

  1. Ryan Merkley, D – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Age: 21
Ht/Wt: 6-0/185
Drafted: 2018 round one, 21st overall by San Jose Sharks

Merkley has the offensive skill and upside of Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes. His skating, vision, and puck skills are simply elite. His skating stride is fluid and effortless looking. He carries the puck up ice and looks like he is gliding, keeping his head up and has the puck on a string. His vision is on display running the power play from the point, making tape-to-tape no look passes, shot passes for tips and deflections and he has a shot that makes him a dual threat to pass or blast it from the point. His stretch passes are a thing of beauty as he hits players halfway up the ice through traffic in flight and right on the tape.

The problem is his defensive game is brutal. He gets caught puck watching in his own end, looks indifferent to playing the man, makes terrible decisions, and frequently turning over in puck management.

His defensive game showed signs of improvement in his final OHL season with the London Knights, and he has continued to make improvements in the AHL, but a lot more work and consistency is required before he will become a regular NHL player. If he ever figures it out, he could become a legitimate replacement to Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns as an offensive defenseman.

  1. Jonathan Dahlen, LW – San Jose Sharks (NHL)

Age: 24
Ht/Wt: 5-11/181
Drafted: 2016 round two, 42nd overall by Ottawa Senators

After being a high second-round pick, Dahlen had his stock drop off significantly. He was traded twice, first to the Canucks for Alex Burrows, then to the Sharks for Linus Karlsson. After a decent season in the AHL with 33 points in 57 games split between Utican and the Barracuda, he was loaned back to Timra in the Allsvenskan, a junior league in Sweden.

While Dahlen dominated there, returning to a junior level hockey had some giving up hope for his NHL upside. Dahlen simply dominated the SHL scoring 148 points in 96 games in two seasons and was named the leagues MVP in both seasons.

The renewed confidence paid off and he has become an NHL regular this year in his return to North America.  With eight points in his first 11 games to start his NHL career, Dahlen hit the ground running but has endured several long stretches of no production. Dahlen is a skilled puck handler and playmaker but will need to find consistency to remain in a top-six regular role in the NHL.

  1. Daniil Guschin, RW – Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)

Age: 20
Ht/Wt: 5-10/181
Drafted: 2020 round three, 76th overall by San Jose Sharks

No stranger to drafts, Guschin was selected 26th overall in 2018 by Muskegon in the USHL Futures Draft, seventh overall in the 2019 CHL Import Draft by the Regina Pats. He chose to return to the USHL and was redrafted in the 2020 CHL Import Draft fourth overall by Niagara. He was drafted twice in 2020 as the Sharks selected him in the third round of the NHL Draft.

Guschin dominated the USHL offensively for two seasons and as a 20-year-old he could have turned pro and played in the AHL, but the Sharks assigned him to the OHL for more development. He has been dominant in the OHL scoring 32 goals and 55 points in the first 37 games with the IceDogs.

A little undersized but he plays a tenacious game and has top-six offensive upside. His defensive game will need some fine tuning in the AHL before he is trusted with significant NHL minutes, but the potential is there.

  1. Tristen Robins, RW – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Age: 20
Ht/Wt: 5-11/185
Drafted: 2020 round two, 56th overall by San Jose Sharks

Robins had a terrific draft year and was a riser up the rankings as the season wore on. His development has continued an upwards trend and his D+1 season began late due to injury but allowed him to have a cup of coffee in the WHL before the WHL resumed. His play was good enough to earn his ELC and in his final season in the WHL where he has been dominant with 24 goals and 63 points through 47 games.

Robins has a motor that never quits, he has an ever adapting and growing offensive skill set. Robins isn’t undersized, but at sub six-feet tall he lacks size, despite that detail he plays a physical game as well. Defensively he is not a liability and if his development continues in the AHL next year he could quickly find himself playing on a third-line in the NHL.

  1. Ben Gaudreau, G – Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 6-2/174
Drafted: 2021 round three, 81st overall By San Jose Sharks

No OHL season in his draft year was a challenge for Gaudreau who played in 28 games in his rookie OHL season. He made the most out of his U18 Tournament with Canada, playing five games with a 5-0-0 record, taking home the Gold Medal and Tournament Best GAA (2.20), SVS% (.919), and Best Goaltender.

Gaudreau has size at 6-2 and blends both sound technical skill for a player his age with athleticism that gives him all the ingredients to be a franchise starting goalie in the NHL. His feet are fast, he moves laterally with power, tracks the puck well, and controls rebounds.

Gaudreau is having a good D+1 season eclipsing his rookie stats in as many games and still has one more season of junior eligibility remaining before he turns pro. The wait time for goalies can be longer than skaters, and goalies can be difficult to scout, but Gaudreau is trending towards a franchise starting goalie for the Sharks.

  1. Artemi Knyazev, D – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Ht/Wt: 6-0/181
Drafted: 2019 round two, 48th overall by San Jose Sharks

The Russian puck-moving defender moved to North America for his draft year and posted 34 points in 55 games in the QMJHL with Chicoutimi. Drafted 10th overall in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Knyazev spent three seasons in the Q and represented Russia at the 2021 World Juniors where he scored four points in seven games but failed to Medal.

In his rookie pro season in the AHL, he is adjusting to the pro game. His plus/minus is a minus -23 which is a red flag. He has produced only two goals and 10 points through 35 games at time of writing this article, so safe to say his offensive game has not fully translated either.

Knyazev is a fluid skater that is most positively impactful with the puck on his stick and skating it up ice in transition. His speed is average, but his stride is fluid and smooth. He is agile and can quickly adapt to situational changes and deploys deception to create opportunities. His defensive game will need to improve to play top-pairing minutes in the NHL, but the offensive upside is already there.

  1. Alexander “Sasha” Chmelevski, RW – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Age: 22
Ht/Wt: 6-0/187
Drafted: 2017 round six, 185th overall by San Jose Sharks

The former Ottawa 67’s star player has transitioned well to pro hockey with 75 points in 113 career AHL games. Chmelevski was named to the 2021 World Championship Team USA and was effective there with four points in eight games adding a bronze Medal to his Silver World Junior Medal from 2019 where he was a point-per-game player.

Chmelevski is a physical and skilled forward that can play in a variety of ways. He can be physical, lead the offense and play defensively. His skating was the primary concern that kept him out of the top end of the draft, but he has made improvements with his speed. The American, Ukrainian dual citizen made his NHL debut last year in five games earning a pair of assists. There is still some work to be done to earn a full-time NHL job, particularly more improved skating, and offensive consistency, but still only 22-years-old there is time and potential.

Honorable Mentions

Joachim Blichfeld: The Danish 23-year-old had a breakout overage performance in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks of 114 points. Now with four seasons in the AHL with 83 points in 109 career games, he is an established pro player with eight NHL games played. His contract expires at the conclusion of the current season as will his waiver exemption status. It may be hard to keep him off an NHL roster next year.

Brandon Coe: Played 17 AHL games last year with five points. The Sharks elected to return him to the OHL for his overage season. He is dominating offensively and is pacing for a 100+ point season in North Bay

Ethan Cardwell: Found a team in Sweden to play in his draft year and is back in the OHL with Barrie producing at a point per game in his D+1 season. Is co-host of the Showbound podcast.

Scott Reedy: Smooth skating Reedy played four seasons of NCAA hockey at U. Minnesota and as a rookie in the AHL has 18 goals and 27 points in 38 games. Reedy earned an NHL recall playing in five games.