Latest Updates on the Top Prospects for the San Jose Sharks

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor INovember 18, 2014

Latest Updates on the Top Prospects for the San Jose Sharks

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    Nikolay Goldobin is the Sharks' top prospect right now.
    Nikolay Goldobin is the Sharks' top prospect right now.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    We are six weeks into the new campaign and the San Jose Sharks are settling on their roster and the role each player will play in the 2014-15 NHL season. Still, each organization believes it has prospects that will be important parts of the future. We will now update the status of each of the top five prospects in the Sharks organization and examine the start they are having this year.

    The top five prospects are rated on their long-term potential. Some of these players may be two or three years away from making an impact in San Jose, but they project as impact players at the NHL level. Other players in the Sharks' system may play in the NHL sooner, but they will likely take on lesser roles.

    Feel free to comment on any of the players listed here or to mention a prospect you feel belongs on this list but was not discussed. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

Honorable Mentions: Noah Rod and Troy Grosenick

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    Troy Grosenick had an outstanding NHL debut.
    Troy Grosenick had an outstanding NHL debut.Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    Goalie Troy Grosenick was the talk of Bay Area hockey fans after his outstanding debut last week against the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Subbing for the injured Alex Stalock, Grosenick made 45 saves and became just the 22nd goalie in league history to record a shutout in his NHL debut.

    Despite the outstanding NHL debut, Grosenick is not considered a top prospect. The former Union College star is already 25 and has been a fairly average AHL player until this point.

    This season, Grosenick is off to a good start at Worcester, going 7-2-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

    Scouts are still not sold on Grosenick long term. One scout told Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated, "He's looked better this year but he still has a few holes in his game. That's not to say he can't [succeed at the NHL level] some day, but he's got a lot of work to do.”

    Once Stalock gets healthy, Grosenick will almost certainly return to the AHL. If he continues to play well there, however, he could allow Sharks general manager Doug Wilson to trade one of his goalies for some much-needed help elsewhere.

    Noah Rod is a Swiss-born winger who was drafted by the Sharks in the second round of this year's draft.

    In 22 games this season in Switzerland, Rod has two assists, 14 penalty minutes and a minus-nine plus/minus. He is still learning to play the game against grown men.

    Rod has good speed and surprising grit for a player of only average size.

    He is projected to be ready to play in the NHL in 2018-19, according to The Hockey News Yearbook.

5. Taylor Doherty

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    Big Taylor Doherty doesn't back down from anybody.
    Big Taylor Doherty doesn't back down from anybody.George Nikitin/Associated Press

    Defenseman Taylor Doherty has imposing size, but he has yet to make his NHL debut. At 23, time may be starting to run out on the 6'7", 235-pound native of Cambridge, Ontario.

    In 14 games this season with Worcester, Doherty has one goal and three points to go with 25 penalty minutes and a plus-two rating.

    Doherty has great size and can trade punches with the best of them, but his skating skills may not be up to NHL standards.

    His biggest assets are his size and his play in his own end. Doherty may be able to add a little offense as well, but he will make his reputation based on his ability to protect teammates and clear opposing forwards out of his team's crease.

    #SJSharks GM Doug Wilson on @Doherty_4 contract extension: "Taylor is a big body who has developed his game over the last several years."

    — Ben Guerrero (@brguerrero) July 16, 2014

    Doherty may see some action with the Sharks this year if injuries strike. Next season he should establish himself as a full-time NHL player.

4. Chris Tierney

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    Chris Tierney spent some time in the NHL this season.
    Chris Tierney spent some time in the NHL this season.Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Center Chris Tierney made his NHL debut with the Sharks at the start of the season and showed signs of his future potential.

    In 11 games with the Sharks, Tierney picked up two assists and was a minus-two. He showed good speed and some offensive potential, which impressed some experts.

    Sharks rookie C Chris Tierney has shown his speed on multiple occasions so far tonight. San Jose might have something good here with him.

    — Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 9, 2014

    The Sharks sent him down to the AHL where Tierney has played well. In four games with Worcester, the Keswick, Ontario, native has a goal and five points.

    Tierney has leadership skills and served as captain of the London Knights of the OHL. Expect to see him back with the Sharks this year if injuries strike or someone slumps among the bottom-six forwards.

    He should have an even better chance of making the NHL full time next season.

3. Freddie Hamilton

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    Freddie Hamilton is about a year away from full-time NHL duty.
    Freddie Hamilton is about a year away from full-time NHL duty.John Russell/Getty Images

    Center Freddie Hamilton made his NHL debut last season, playing in 11 games for the Sharks without recording a point. He scored 22 goals and 43 points in 64 games with Worcester last season.

    This year, Hamilton started the season in the AHL and has provided improved offensive production. In 14 games, the Toronto native has five goals and 12 points.

    While Hamilton is a productive offensive player in the minors, he is likely viewed as more of a third-line center by most scouts.

    Hamilton has good hockey smarts and plays strong positional hockey with and without the puck. He is also a good penalty-killer.

    “@freddiehamiIton: @sharkvoice Where do you see Freddie Hamilton in a year?” Hopefully SJ, but that's up to Freddie.

    — Randy Hahn (@sharkvoice) March 31, 2014

    Expect him to get his shot to break in with the Sharks full time if he has a strong training camp next fall.

2. Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau

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    Nineteen-year-old Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau still needs time to develop.
    Nineteen-year-old Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau still needs time to develop.Don Smith/Getty Images

    The San Jose Sharks selected winger Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau in the second round of the 2013 NHL draft.

    Paquin-Boudreau was off to a solid start playing for Chicoutimi of the QMJHL this season with two goals and nine points in seven games, but he is out until at least January with an injury.

    RT More bad news for #Saguenéens no Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau before January - When it's going bad! #LHJMQ

    — RDS in English (@RDSinEnglish) November 11, 2014

    Paquin-Boudreau is 5'11" and weighed a mere 167 pounds when he was drafted by the Sharks. He clearly needs to bulk up in order to play in the AHL, let alone the NHL. At 19, he still has time to do that.

    His offensive production dropped dramatically last year from the previous season, although that doesn't seem to be a major concern, at least not yet. In 2012-13, Paquin-Boudreau scored 22 goals and had 63 points in 67 games. Last year, his production fell to 16 goals and 35 points in 67 games.

    49 - Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau to San Jose. Shifty and skilled player who can play much bigger than his size. Consistency an issue

    — ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) June 30, 2013

    This year was supposed to be a key year in Paquin-Boudreau's development, but the injury may set back his timetable. Either way, the fall of 2017 should be the earliest he is expected to challenge for a spot on the big club.

1. Nikolay Goldobin

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    Goldobin saw some action with the Sharks this preseason.
    Goldobin saw some action with the Sharks this preseason.George Nikitin/Associated Press

    Russian forward Nikolay Goldobin was the Sharks' top pick in last summer's NHL draft.

    A recent scouting report by Dennis Schellenberg of had this to say about Goldobin:

    Nikolai is a very skilled forward who has great puckhandling skills and good hands. He is an offensive force, has a good shot arsenal and isn’t afraid to use it. Next to his goal scoring touch, Nikolai can also set up plays very well and has a good overview for his line mates.

    The skilled Russian has very strong offensive abilities and showed flashes of that in the preseason with the Sharks.

    The team and Goldobin's agent decided he would be better off spending this season in Finland than returning to play another year of junior hockey in Canada.

    When the decision was made, GM Doug Wilson issued a statement (as reported by Kevin Kurz of saying,

    Nikolay had a great training camp and showed us that he is a highly-skilled player. He is going to be an important player for this organization moving forward but at this time, in conjunction with direction from his agent Igor Larionov, we feel his development is best suited playing in a league against men, similar to the path Tomas Hertl took.

    Thus far, the move seems to have paid off. Goldobin has scored five goals and eight points in 10 games.

    If he does well in Finland this season, Goldobin should have a shot at making the Sharks next fall.