2011 NHL Draft Grades by Player: San Jose Sharks
The 2011 NHL draft has concluded.
The San Jose Sharks entered the draft for the second straight year as the best team in the regular season among those to finish in the final four of the NHL playoffs. Thus, they were not expected to pick until 28th.
That does not scream making a splash. For a team this good picking this late, no one drafted would make an impact on the NHL team for some time.
So they traded the pick. And last year's 28th pick in the draft. And 2005 eighth overall pick Devin Setoguchi.
What did they get in return? Next year's second-round pick from Minnesota and their 2003 first-round pick (20th overall), Brent Burns.
That certainly made a splash, but it does not sound like a worthwhile trade-off on paper. (See this link for an assessment of who got the better deal.)
But how did the Sharks do on the rest of their picks? Here they are in order...
47. Matthew Nieto
The Sharks traded their second-round pick (59th overall) and their third-round pick in 2012 to the Florida Panthers in exchange for their second-round pick. With the 47th pick in the 2011 NHL draft, they selected Matthew Nieto.
The Boston University left wing had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) and 16 penalty minutes in 36 games as a freshman. He won gold medals at the Under-18 World Championship with Team USA in both 2009 and 2010 and participated in the 2011 World Junior Championships evaluation camp.
The 5'10", 177-lb. Long Beach, CA native is a college teammate of 2010 first-round pick Charlie Coyle. He was the 43rd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting.
Thus, unless only four European skaters and goalies around the world combined were rated higher, he was a bit of a reach. At the same time, with the trade of two forwards for one defenceman from the franchise, the Sharks needed more depth at forward.
89. Justin Sefton
With the 89th overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft, the Sharks selected Justin Sefton. The defenceman from Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League was listed on different articles between 6'0" and 6'3" and between 210 or 215 lbs.—quite a load either way for an 18-year-old.
Sefton scored 11 points (five goals, six assists) and had 124 penalty minutes in 66 games last season. He said he takes pride in defensive coverage and patterns his game after Dion Phaneuf and Chris Pronger, meaning he may add some of the nasty the team lacks.
“I’m a big physical guy,” Sefton said. “I like to move the puck quick with good hard passes. I’m working on my speed to get my game quicker.”
“He plays quite a (few) minutes against the top lines,” Director of Scouting Tim Burke said. “I like the progress he made during the year. When (Sudbury) got to the playoffs, he kept improving.”
But while he fits the Sharks' needs, he is ranked just 89th among North American skaters. With dozens of goalies and European skaters added to those ranked ahead of him, his selection seems more than a full round early.
133. Sean Kuraly
San Jose made another trade in the fourth round, sending the 119th overall pick to Winnipeg for the 133rd and 194th. They used the first of those picks on centre Sean Kuraly.
The 6'2", 192-pound Dublin, OH native scored 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) and registered 45 penalty minutes in 51 games with Indiana of the United States Hockey League. He is a good defensive player, sharing the league lead with four short-handed goals.
He is childhood friends with Connor Murphy, drafted 20th by the Phoenix Coyotes, and both will play for Miami of Ohio, where Kuraly's father played.
Rankings for players outside of the first four rounds are hard to find and rarely worth a lick, but since he is only one of two picks for whom I could not find a ranking, one has to think he is a reach despite his size, position and grit, which make him seem to be a good selection.
166. Daniil Sobchenko
With the 166th overall pick, San Jose selected Daniil Sobchenko from Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League. The fact that he was able to play in the Russian league widely recognized as the closest to NHL-level competition is encouraging, but he scored just a goal and an assist in 16 games.
The 6'2", 192-lb. centre also played for Russia in the World Junior Championships, where he scored four goals and three assists in seven games. This limited action nonetheless provides a measure more comparable to other players in the draft and bears well on his future.
One scouting report called him "a playmaking center with a knack on passing game...solid skating, has to work on speed...good stability...can take hits and physical play thanks to his size...excellent vision and reading of the play...tries hard on defense...doesn't shy away from physical play...has to work on his shot, both slap and wrist."
Still, as another player for whom there was no apparent Central Scouting ranking, one has to question whether he is as good as the above report claims.
179. Dylan DeMelo
By the time you reach the 179th overall pick, photos of players are unavailable. However, GM Doug Wilson's selection was ranked by Central Scouting, placing 121st among North American skaters.
The 6'0", 196-lb. defenceman is from London, Ontario. In 67 games with Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League, he scored three goals and 24 assists while accruing 70 penalty minutes. DeMelo's ranking coupled with the fact that he had good production in a respected league suggests he was a solid pick.
194. Colin Blackwell
Through the earlier trade with Winnipeg, San Jose ended its draft with the 194th selection. It used it on 5'8", 164-lb. Lawrence, Massachusetts native Colin Blackwell.
The centre for St. John's Prep scored 33 goals and 33 assists in 25 games against inferior competition. That was good enough to earn him a ranking of 173rd by Central Scouting among North American skaters and make him barely a reach considering his position and scoring capabilities may come in handy.
Overall Grade: D
It should be noted that the Central Scouting rankings were used as the most significant element of these grades because they are the most respected available to the general public. For more on how they compare to Doug Wilson and the league as a whole, check out the following link to a companion piece Monday on the Sharks page of Sports Haze Bay Area.
Most of these grades were below average. The ones that were not were from later rounds, making this draft highly questionable.
Thus, Wilson and coach Todd McLellan had better hope that the trade designed for short-term payoff works quickly, or they may both be looking for work before any of these picks makes it to the NHL.