My prediction is the Sharks will end up drafting Scott Mayfield in the first round
Before teams make choices about who to draft, they must consider several things.
They chart the value of every player. This means their scouting department and management come to a consensus on which player is the 153rd best in the draft and which player is 154th.
They make evaluations of their own team at all levels for all positions and all attributes. How is the team speed, size, physicality, puck-handling, passing and scoring, both on the blueline and among forwards.
And not just for the NHL roster, but in the system. How many of the players at the NHL level are nearing the end of their tenure with the team, how many are close to making the jump and how many projects will eventually get there?
Then they have to determine what the needs of other teams are, especially those picking immediately before or after them. They need to know who might be taken from them, come back to haunt them as they slide to someone else and who is a potential trade target.
By the even of the draft, the work is done and the only thing left to do is wait. Wait to see who is selected, if someone comes calling for their pick and make adjustments to the changing situations.
For the San Jose Sharks, the 28th pick will not net someone who can contribute on the NHL level in 2011-12. For them, it is about at least a couple years down the road.
How active will the Sharks be trading picks?
It is important to note the team will return at least three forwards and two defencemen over 30 years of age. But only Dan Boyle has seen his 32nd birthday yet, so the Sharks need not be desperate to get anyone to fill their spots.
Moreover, San Jose is not a team on a strict budget, so future replacements may come via free agency. This takes a lot of pressure off the draft and allows them to look for the best players available.
However, a look at the following link detailing prospects in the Sharks system reveals there are some definite strengths and weaknesses for this team. As you can see from that assessment, if they select a goalie you can bet he was rated a full round better on their draft board.
The one Sharks need is a top-three defenceman, and not just because Boyle is getting older. The reality is this unit has been at a disadvantage in five consecutive playoff series in a conference that is loaded at the position.
The Sharks also look like they will be thin behind the top-six on the blueline next season. While devoting a high pick may not help by the 2012 playoffs, it could add depth as soon as 2013.
Due to trades, the Sharks are without picks in the fifth (Ben Eager) and seventh (prospect Christopher Crane) rounds. However, they do have an extra sixth-round pick from the New York Rangers for Jody Shelley.
What position should the Sharks focus most on in the draft
With that in mind, the following players are my ranking of blueliners the Sharks should target (assuming that Adam Larson, Ryan Murphy and Dougie Hamilton will not be available even by trade), with their projected selection time:
1. Nathan Beaulieu (mid-first)
2. Jonas Brodin (mid to late first)
3. Duncan Siemens (mid to late first)
5. Oscar Klefbom (late first)
6. Scott Mayfield (late first)
7. Jamie Oleksiak (early second)
8. Joe Morrow (early to mid-second)
9. David Musil (early to mid-second)
10. Xavier Ouellet (mid to late-second)
11. Adam Clendening (late second)
12. Joel Edmundson (late second)
13. Stuart Percy (early third)
If the Sharks are going after defencemen, how many of these 20 are worth picking in the first three rounds?
14. Ryan Sproul (early to mid-third)
15. Tyler Wotherspoon (mid-third)
16. Rasmus Bengtsson (mid to late third)
17. Robbie Russo (mid to late third)
18. Adrei Pedan (late third)
19. Connor Murphy (late third to early fourth)
20. Zachary Yuen (early fourth)