No Need To Panic
First I need to preface this by saying that one should not panic over a prospect scrimmage game with nothing on the line. In these situations, it’s far more important to look at individual performances than final scores. Some of the individual performances so far have been good, even as the team itself looked awful.
Rudolfs Balcers has been excellent for the Sharks rookies so far factoring in on the offense with 6 points so far in the camp. I have liked most of what I have seen from Alexander True, he seems to be in the right place and isn’t afraid to use his large 6’5″ frame. Jeremy Roy looked good to me in the game he played making some decent reads and skating well. Sasha Chemelevski has been one of my favorite players to watch in camp so far. I look forward to hopefully seeing him with my own eyes when the Ottawa 67’s come to town.
Of the newcomers or players not under contract Parker Gahagan had an excellent game against the Colorado Avalanche. Radim Semik could legitimately challenge for an NHL job in training camp, even if he does not make it he will be a force for the Barracuda. Filip Sandberg has also impressed a lot he has factored into the offense a ton. With a new Entry Level Contract, Jacob Middleton has worn the C for the rookies and looks very good. Nick DeSimone also continues to impress after joining the Barracuda last season.
All things considered, I find myself more interested in the upcoming Barracuda season than I was at the end of last season. The additions should make for an interesting dynamic and competitive team. There will be a lot of intrigue in both training camps and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Draft Strategy Should be in Question
It’s no secret that I have been critical of the Sharks drafting strategy, especially in the first round. The Sharks in my opinion usually reach for players who will likely be a bottom six NHLer rather than take risks. Josh Norris is the latest example of this a player who many expected to be a second rounder. Now, I don’t think Josh Norris is a bad player. I definitely think there were better options still on the board. Also, no one needs to remind anyone the draft is kind of a crap shoot.
There are many who have defended the Sharks drafting history. They are always quick to remind people that Logan Couture was a reach and that turned out fine. They also will say that Sharks generally are not in a position to draft players because of their draft position. There are a few issues with this argument. First, it does not justify the reach into the later rounds. The second issue is that other teams have had similar success and have drafted better. Third, there has never been more information on prospects available to teams ever in the history of the game.
Ducks have had solid results
Again I must emphasize that this rant is not the result of one prospect game. The Ducks, however, have had very similar success to the Sharks. They have been a playoff team the last five years winning the division in each. They have generally picked in the later part of the first round much like the Sharks. While the Ducks prospect pool isn’t close to the top of the league there is far more to like in the first round compared to San Jose.
So what is the difference between the two teams? The first difference is that the Sharks pick a player and take that player regardless of what falls into their lap. They get set on a player they like often leaving the best potential player availiable on the board. The Ducks, on the other hand, have done a great job of taking advantage of a falling player. Max Jones was a player that was expected to go in the teens of the 2016 NHL Draft. The Ducks selected him at 24. Sam Steel may have been considered a slight reach at the time but only by about five slots. Shea Theodore (now a Golden Knight) also fell into their laps at 26.
In contrast, the Sharks selected Josh Norris, while some scouting services had him in the 20’s most had him as a late second rounder. Mirco Mueller, while poor development choices hindered him, was a significant reach at 18th. Nikolay Goldobin did fall into their lap though and was the kind of pick the Sharks need to make more of. Yes, Goldobin certainly didn’t pan out in San Jose but had the potential of game breaking talent. This is something the current pipeline has a woeful lack of.
Luck is an aspect of drafting, and the Ducks have had some. But the Ducks have also had a lot of success with boom or bust picks, Rickard Rakell was also a 30th overall pick. The Sharks can do better on the draft floor and it starts with taking a few more risks than drafting the safe likely bottom-six NHL forward.