NHL Draft 2012: Grading Each San Jose Sharks Pick

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIJune 25, 2012

NHL Draft 2012: Grading Each San Jose Sharks Pick

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    The 2012 NHL draft was the most important for the San Jose Sharks since Doug Wilson's draft as general manager in 2003.

    For one, San Jose had its worst finish since the 2002-03 season. That means Wilson has his earliest selection by round in his tenure.

    Because he expended the prospect pool last summer in another push to win now, he needs to replenish the system with young talent. Except he compounded that problem by also trading away picks.

    To his credit, however, Wilson added value via trade, mostly by switching out of next year's fourth round and into this year's. He also gave up his seventh-round pick in this draft, but anyone the Sharks want with fewer than 20 picks to go in the draft probably can be signed as an undrafted free agent.

    Wilson had the following to say (via the San Francisco Chronicle, June 24) about this year's draft:

    "We're pleased with what we accomplished this year. The truth will be told in future years with how they can help our team."

    And that is just it. The scope of any draft cannot truly be analyzed until five years from now.

    Exactly two years ago—four years after being drafted—Michael Grabner looked to be a complete bust. Then he looked every bit worth it after a Calder Trophy finalist season, but dropped 40 percent in production his sophomore season.

    But that does not stop us from trying. The indefinite nature of analyzing draft picks is exactly why they are great debate topics.

    Central Scouting is a widely accepted standard for prospects, however, and composed by people with far more hockey knowledge than I have. Hence, each pick is graded against that standard.

Tomas Hertl

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    Tomas Hertl, 19, told Comcast SportsNet that he grew up watching the Sharks.

    He was rated the fifth-best European skater in the draft by the NHL Central Scouting Service.

    Even considering that North Americans hold about two-thirds of the draftees and perhaps a singular goalie one might rate ahead of him, this makes him at least a solid pick.

    "He has the upside potential to be a centerman that you can use in all situations," Sharks scouting director Tim Burke said. "He will defend, he makes plays, he has long reach, he strips pucks, he's able to play low around the net. There are a lot of good qualities."

    He knows how to find the back of the net: 12 goals and plus-nine rating over 38 games for Slavia Praha and three goals in six World Junior Hockey Championship games. Considering they have a lack of secondary scoring, it is unfortunate that the team expects him to need another year in the Czech Republic before he is ready to play in the NHL.

    He fits the needs of the team and was a good value, making him a solid B grade as a pick.

Chris Tierney

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    The San Jose Sharks had a compensatory pick in the second round of the 2012 NHL draft.

    They used it to select center Chris Tierney, who had 11 goals, 23 assists and a plus-25 rating last season for the London Knights.

    "He was a good younger player on a real good team who had a lot of good players," scouting director Tim Burke said. "He should be able to step up into another role next year. He's a guy if he's on a bad team, he probably goes higher because he would be seen more."

    However, the 55th pick was used on a player rated just 118th among North American skaters.

    Even if the Sharks are right and Central Scouting is wrong, it is hard to imagine a player rated this low could not be gotten with a later pick.

    If there were half as many European skaters and goalies from anywhere combined as there were North American skaters, he was selected three rounds early.

    Of course, the team did not have another selection scheduled until No. 138. That lack is what likely forced the team's hand to pick him so early.

    The Sharks are deep at center, but since they can play the wing, you can never have too many of them. They have more young talent on the blue line than among forwards, so at least the reach fills the team's biggest need. That is enough to rate this move a D-plus.

Christophe Lalancette

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    The San Jose Sharks traded to get the pick they used on right wing Christophe Lalancette.

    He appears to be a great value at No. 109—he was ranked 62nd among North American skaters and expected to go anytime from the late third to early fourth round.

    He has decent size for an 18-year-old (6'0", 170 pounds) and will be able to add weight to his frame.

    He knows how to score, with 16 goals, 31 assists and a plus-five rating in 63 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games last season.

    He may provide the Sharks options when the contracts of the current San Jose core (many of whom are forwards) expire in two seasons.

    A pick that covers need and nets value above the draft slot is worthy of a B, even if it requires losing the same pick next season and a seventh-rounder this year.

Daniel O'Regan

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    Daniel O'Regan is small (5'9", 169 pounds) for a forward in the Doug Wilson tenure as San Jose Sharks general manager.

    But the Boston College-committed center was the 112th-rated North American skater, so being drafted No. 138 indicates Wilson liked him a little more than Central Scouting did.

    He had seven points in 10 games for Team USA in the under-18 championships and has been nearly a goal-per-game scorer in Massachusetts High School competition.

    That kind of goal scoring could help the Sharks immensely and makes up for a minimal reach—he likely would not have been there 30 picks later. That modest, calculated risk is almost the definition of a C grade.

Clifford Watson

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    Tell me the San Jose Sharks' sixth-round pick could not pass as Marc-Edouard Vlasic's younger, blonde cousin.

    He could be paired with him in the near future.

    If so, Pickles may have to do the scoring—Clifford Watson had no goals and eight assists in 58 games in the USHL.

    However, he did score at other levels previously, and he has good size (6'2", 201 pounds).

    The bottom line is San Jose spent the 168th pick in the draft on a player ranked 170th among only North American skaters. While the focus on forwards in the previous four picks made the blue line a bigger priority, his ranking suggests he might have been available after the draft, or at least the next round.

    The Sheboygan, WI (about an hour from where I grew up) native should have the Midwestern work ethic, maximizing the benefit of coaching that develops many picks in the bottom half of the draft into serviceable defensemen.

    But this is still a reach in a situation that should not have compelled it...D-plus.

Joakim Ryan

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    No, 5'10", 182-pound Joakim Ryan is not going to remind anyone of current San Jose Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray.

    But there were no pictures available of the New Jersey native through Getty Images, so I gravitated to one thing he shares with Crankshaft: Cornell.

    Ryan appears to be a more prolific offensive player, with seven goals and 10 assists in 34 games for them. He had 32 points in 53 games in the USHL the season before.

    The fact that Ryan is not even among the 212 North American skaters Central Scouting listed in their rankings suggests that he would have been available after the round was over.

    But since you can lose players to other teams in those situations, you have to go after the next guy on your board.

    Still, perhaps a player off the radar of a respected operation that scouted 378 players should not be a target—this selection can do no better than a D.