Projecting Top-End Potential for San Jose Sharks' Best Prospects

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Projecting Top-End Potential for San Jose Sharks' Best Prospects
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Nieto was supposed to be a top prospect for the Sharks. Instead, his play has earned him a full-time role in San Jose.

The top-end talent within the San Jose Sharks prospect system has already been on full display in 2013-14. Contributions from Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto—San Jose's top two prospects according to Hockey's Future—have all but cemented their place in San Jose for the season.

However, the quick succession of Hertl and Nieto to San Jose has left somewhat of a talent gap between the NHL Sharks and the rest of the pool of prospects, particularly in terms of future top-end talent.

This gap can partially be attributed to San Jose’s success over the past decade, which has resulted in the club securing top-10 picks just twice (used to pick Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture). Sharks general manager Doug Wilson further depleted the prospect pool by electing to trade the club's first-round pick in three of the past six seasons.

Hockey's Future rated San Jose's collective pool of prospects, including Hertl and Nieto, 22nd out of the 30 NHL clubs prior to the start of the season. The Sharks have a wealth of defenders with mid- to low-end NHL potential and have considerable depth at center within their organization. Not coincidentally, those are two areas of strength for the NHL club as well.

As the Sharks continue to push hard for a Stanley Cup, it may continue to be open market on San Jose's top prospects if the return can help the present group obtain the ultimate prize.

Here’s a look at five of the best players in the wings for the San Jose Sharks.

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