It has been a long year for Sharks fans as the team toils at the bottom rungs of the NHL rankings. New GM Mike Grier is beginning to put his mark on the roster and is guiding it through a rebuild toward the future. He has begun acquiring prospects and draft picks and in short order has built some depth in the pipeline and hope for the future.
The real hope will come at this year’s draft lottery and draft in Nashville as the Sharks will walk away with one of this year’s top prizes in one of Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson or Matvei Michkov. Any one of those players could quickly become a franchise player.
Top 10 San Jose Sharks Prospects
1. William Eklund, C/LW – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, seventh overall by San Jose Sharks.
Since his draft at seventh overall in 2021, Eklund has been playing pro hockey in either Sweden or North America. His production in the SHL was impressive for a teenager with 39 points in 89 career games. Eklund played in nine NHL games in his D+1 year before being loaned back to the SHL but this current season he remained in San Jose, playing in the AHL for the Barracuda.
His play has been excellent posting 41 points in 52 games and has been recalled to the NHL. Eklund is a dynamic offensive player and when the Sharks add an elite talent to play with him from the 2023 draft, his numbers will take off.
2. Thomas Bordeleau, C – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round two, 38th overall by San Jose Sharks.
Bordeleau had two dominant seasons in the NCAA with the University of Michigan posting back-to-back seasons of a point-per-game production or better. In his sophomore season, he played for the USA WJC team scoring eight points in five games before suiting up for America at the World Championship. He also fit in his NHL debut by playing the final eight regular season games and picking up five points.
Not wanting to rush a top prospect the Sharks have allowed Bordeleau to cut his pro-level teeth in the AHL where he is on pace for a solid 47-point season. The Sharks have a bright future and Bordeleau is a big part of that as he projects as a top-six, first or second line offense driving center.
3. Alexander Chmelevski, RW/C – Salavat Yulaev (KHL)
Drafted: 2017 round six, 185th overall by San Jose Sharks.
Chmelevski is a curious case, to say the least. The California native had a stellar junior career in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s and was a key player for the Americans winning Silver at the 2019 WJC scoring seven points. He played three seasons split between the AHL and NHL and was on the cusp of cracking the Sharks roster as a regular.
Then he signed a contract in the KHL that will run through 2023-24. It was an unexpected development and a disappointing one. In his first season in the KHL he has 48 points through 67 games and has produced at a point-per-game in the playoffs. When his contract expires, and if he returns to the Sharks, he could be a top-six offensive player as they emerge from this current rebuild.
4. Tristen Robins, RW – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round two, 56th overall by San Jose Sharks.
After an offensive breakout draft year where Robins posted 73 points in 62 games, his stock as a prospect was at a high mark. The Sharks drafted him in the second round in 2020.
His D+1 year was limited due to the pandemic but he managed 23 points in 16 games, well over a point per game. Rather than graduate, the Sharks returned him to the WHL for his overaged, fifth season. While hopes were that he would reach the 100-point plateau, his 78 points in 62 games was good, but static in terms of development.
Now as a 21-year-old AHL rookie, his production is coming along as he is on pace for 37 points, but his foot speed and defensive game are still a work in progress if he is to become an NHL player.
5. Henry Thrun, LD – Harvard University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2019 round four, 101st overall by Anaheim Ducks.
Thrun was acquired by the Sharks recently for a third-round selection. Speculation is that the senior and captain at Harvard, Thrun was not going to sign with Anaheim and become a free agent. The Sharks will have the option to sign Thrun to his ELC following the Harvard season and burn off a year of his three-year contract.
Thrun would be one of the Sharks top defensive prospects and have a less obstructed road to the NHL than in Anaheim. Thrun has been a force in the NCAA with the Crimson as a point-per-game player as a defenseman that plays a solid defensive and physical game as well. He projects as a solid middle pairing, big-minute playing defender.
6. Filip Bystedt, C – Linkoping (SHL)
Drafted: 2022 round one, 27th overall by San Jose Sharks.
Bystedt became more of a household name after his breakout performance at the 2023 WJC with Sweden, where he scored 10 points in seven games. The 19-year-old is playing his D+1 year as a full-time SHL player and posted 20 points through 45 games. His offensive outburst at the WJC suggests his offensive upside when he matures and comes to North America could be understated.
His size is a big advantage at lower levels but is muted somewhat at the pro level. His skating is the principal development need but if he can improve that he could fill out a third-line center role with size, leadership, and offensive upside and be a valuable player.
7. Shakir Mukhamadulin, LD – Salavat Yulaev (KHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one, 20th overall by New Jersey Devils.
A principal piece acquired from New Jersey in exchange for Timo Meier is the towering Russian defender. Mukhamadulin is a polarizing prospect. Some consider him a solid prospect, while others are not convinced he translates to the NHL at all.
His size, mobility, and bomb of a shot are what stand out in a positive light. His decision-making at times with the puck and in the defensive zone stands out as glaring development needs. The Devils are flush with blue chip defense prospects and can part with the towering enigma. Now it is up to the Sharks development and coaching staff to polish his game into a star NHL defenseman. It’s a gamble with a good payoff if it works.
8. Mattias Havelid, RD – Linkoping (SHL)
Drafted: 2022 round two, 45th overall by San Jose Sharks
The offensive defenseman had a strong draft year scoring 10 goals and nine points in 29 games at the J20 level in Sweden. Havelid made an impression with scouts at the U18 WJC when he scored four goals and 12 points in six games with Sweden.
His offense is derived from his shot, it is deadly. His accuracy, velocity, and release are all NHL-ready. He is slightly undersized and needs time to improve his defense and reads. His first full SHL season just concluded, and he posted six points in 25 games. Havelid could come to finish the year in the AHL with the Barracuda.
9. Artemi Knyazev, LD – San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 48th overall by San Jose Sharks.
The Russian offensive defender had three productive seasons in the CHL in Chicoutimi. Last year was his AHL rookie season and there were some ups and downs. His offensive production of 28 points in 60 games as a rookie was impressive. His minus -47 plus/minus rating was ugly.
Now in his sophomore season, his offensive game has remained intact, but his defensive game has cleaned up considerably as his plus/minus is even on a non-playoff team. His offensive game is NHL-ready and he made huge strides in his defensive game. Knyazev is trending toward being an NHL regular soon.
10. Ben Gaudreau, G – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round three, 81st overall by San Jose Sharks.
Goalies can be difficult to scout for many, myself included. Gaudreau is possibly the most difficult goalie to project. He has good size, plays a sound positional style, is athletic and quick.
His regular season stats with Sarnia (a very good team) leave a lot to be desired with a 3.12 GAA. However, he gets the job done and has a strong 23-12-3 record. He was named to Team Canada for the WJC and was the favorite to be the starting goalie, but lost the job after allowing five goals in the opening game, Canada’s only loss. It was his second appearance in a Team Canada goal, as he backstopped Canada to a U18 Gold and was named the Best Goaltender in the tournament.
Goalies can take time to fully mature, projecting Gaudreau for me is admittedly a mystery. I would not be surprised if he developed into an NHL starting goalie, or if he struggles in the ECHL and ends up a bust. Time will tell.
Cam Lund, C – Northeastern (NCAA) – Freshman with the Huskies is having a strong season and turning heads. He is a stock riser!
Ethan Cardwell, C – Barrie Colts (OHL) – OHL overage player with Barrie is on pace for a 90-point season and should have a long playoff run as well.
Daniil Gushchin, RW – San Jose Barracuda (AHL) – AHL rookie transitioning well on pace for a 42-point season, albeit a minus -17.
Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW – San Jose Barracuda (AHL) – AHL rookie plays an aggressive physical game, offense has yet to arrive at the pro level.
Nikita Okhotyuk, D – San Jose Barracuda (AHL) – Acquired with Mukhamadulin for Meier, Okhotyuk is a physical, hard-hitting defensive defenseman.
Artem Guryev, D – Flint Firebirds (OHL) – Another physical defender, the mean Russian often crosses the line.
Brandon Coe, RW – San Jose Barracuda (AHL) – After a 101-point OHL season as an overage, the offense has not translated to the AHL as a rookie.
Nick Cicek, D – San Jose Barracuda (AHL) – Defensive defenseman specializes in hits and blocks, playing his way into a bottom-pairing NHL defender.