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Doug Wilson Jr. on How Sharks Ended Up with All Forwards, Trading Up for Gushchin

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Credit: NHL Network

“Think small.”

For the San Jose Sharks, a couple trends emerged during the second day of the 2020 NHL Draft.

In the first two rounds, 10 5-foot-10 or smaller forwards were selected. San Jose used all three of their first or second round picks on such forwards.

Also:

So that’s nine forwards in nine draft picks.

Anyway, we’ve already talked about four of these forwards: No. 31 Ozzy Wiesblatt, No. 38 Thomas Bordeleau, No. 56 Tristen Robins, and No. 76 Danil Gushchin.

Ozzy Wiesblatt: “My mom will never forget that.”

Get to Know Thomas Bordeleau, Tristen Robins, Danil Gushchin

Let’s talk now about picks No. 98 Brandon Coe, No. 196 Alex Young, No. 201 Adam Raska, No. 206 Linus Oberg, and No. 211 Timofey Spitserov.

Doug Wilson, Doug Wilson Jr., and Joe Will also offered a post-Draft recap that touched on the aforementioned trends.

Speaking of Coe, the San Jose Sharks acquired No. 98 from Montreal for a 2021 third-round pick (from Washington).

The Sharks also traded No. 127 to the Rangers for the No. 196 and No. 206 picks.

Doug Wilson Jr.

Doug Wilson Jr., on whether or not San Jose Sharks were confident that Thomas Bordeleau would be there at No. 38:

We weren’t confident he was going to be there. It was a calculated risk to move down from No. 34 to No. 38 to get No. 100.

Wilson Jr. on why San Jose traded up to pick Gushchin:

We really did not want to move back up into the draft. Our goal was to continue to move down. But at some point, when you get a player of that caliber, it’s worth more than two picks.

With Danil, he was just one of 3-4 guys who we highlighted, if they get past a certain threshold, we got to try to find a way to get him.

He’s training right now with Ivan Chekhovich. They’re very close friends.

He was on a bad team this year in Muskegon. But he was the leading scorer on the team, even strength points. It’s a small stat, but on that team, he was a +21. I think the next closest was -2 or -3 for guys who played over 20 games.

Besides being so offensive, he’s conscientious on both sides of the rink.

We thought he was worth the risk to move back up.

Wilson Jr., on how San Jose Sharks ended up with all forwards in this Draft:

We just went with Best Player Available. We signed Brinson Pasichnuk. Our last couple drafts, we drafted Ryan Merkley, Santeri Hatakka, Artemi Kniazev, Mario Ferraro.

We had some D on our list, they just didn’t fall.

Wilson Jr. on if all four seventh-rounders were also on San Jose’s 131-deep draft list:

We won’t draft anyone who’s off our list. If they’re not on our list, we’ll try to trade the picks to future years.

Doug Wilson

Wilson, on if picking smaller forwards was looking toward how game will be played in future:

A little bit. But I think you’re looking for hockey players. You’re looking for the type of ingredients, guys who can be successful in this league irregardless of their size. We’ve got guys who can skate, a lot of right-shot guys. 6 of the 9 guys are right shot. They all got compete, they can think the game at a high level.

Brandon Coe

Brandon Coe, on what spurred his growth in second half of season:

Just finding the confidence in my game. Once I made the Top Prospects Game, I thought to myself I could be a top player in the OHL.

In the second half of the year, I had a lot of confidence in my game.

Coe, on long-time North Bay Battalion head coach Stan Butler’s impact on him:

Stan’s been great for me. Took me in as a 16-year-old right off the bat. Was tough on me but that’s what coaches are meant to be.

He’s taught me a lot of wise things in the game of hockey, taught me how to be a more consistent player. Can’t thank him enough for that.

Wilson Jr., on trading for pick that was used on Coe:

We highlighted a few goalscorers who were bigger but we wanted all of them to be able to skate. I’m not sure how he ended up slipping.

6-foot-4 right shot with 25 goals in the OHL, they don’t grow on trees.

Bryan Marchment knows him better than anyone.

Elite Prospects on Coe:

“There’s plenty of skill here, too — waiting to be harnessed…hand-eye coordination is among the best in class, getting wood on just about every puck in a metter-and-a-half radius.”

“He disappears for lengthy stretches. It’s not for a lack of trying.”

McKeen’s Hockey on Coe:

“Major allure of Coe’s game comes from his size and speed combination…explosive and powerful for a 6-foot-3 teenager…it is rare to find 6-foot-3 forwards who can skate like Coe does.”

“Does Coe think the game well enough to be more than just a change of pace energy player at the NHL level?”

Alex Young

Doug Wilson Jr. on Young:

We should’ve drafted Alex Young last year.

(Future Considerations)

Adam Raska

Linus Oberg

Timofey Spitserov

Per The Hockey News, who rated Spitserov as a sleeper: “Playing for a prep team that often got dominated by other high-end programs, Spitserov was a bit of a one-man army for the Eagles: He led the team with 49 goals and 76 points in 40 games, while the second-leading scorer notched just 46 points.

“So it was tough for scouts to get a read on Spitserov, who came over from Russia and is committed to UMass. A hardworking kid who stops on pucks and has a heavy frame, Spitserov is a bit of a mystery even to NHL scouts, but there’s definitely talent there. Muskegon owns his USHL rights.”

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Alaskan_ice

Great stuff Sheng, I’m quite excited about this draft. Skating is the thing. If any of them turn out to be a Brendan Morrison clone, I’m thrilled.

whiskerz

Wish there was a prospects game to attend after this draft year now! Sounds like we did well

david barnard

Wiesblatt was taken too soon (mid 2nd rd). Bordeleau was a good pick at #38 a few picks earlier than i had him ranked. Robins at #56 was taken too high. he would’ve been a great mid draft pick in the 3rd or 4th round. Gushchin at #76 is a great pick. Coe’s a great pick and worthwhile trade at #98. lots of intriguing tools if he can find more consistency in his game at the next levels. Alex Young at #196 with Alexander Pashin still on the board was NOT BPA! Pashin has like a high 60% probability to… Read more »

Skyler Greenberg

If Pashin was such a good player why did be slip to round 7? I am not saying the sharks didn’t miss on the player but them and about 29 other teams decided to pass on him mutiple times. I wonder what they saw in Pashin that made him a DnD.

david barnard

i guess by that logic Pavs and Banc were bad players. the concerns with Pashin were: size (5’8, 154), physicality, and play away from the puck. strengths: puck pursuit, soft/quick hands, skating/edge work, shooting/quick release. bottom line, with more consistency he’s got top 6 F talent; at worse he’s a 3W PP specialist. high risk/high reward player. he’s also been a big contributor in international play, which speaks well of his compete.

david barnard

Dylan Griffing scouts the MHL almost exclusively had this to say about Pashin: “Alexander Pashin is first on this list (top 5 underrated Russians) because he does have some hype being ranked as a second-rounder by most outlets. The undersized Russian has the 20th-most star potential, according to Hockey Prospecting at 25%. In addition, his NHLer probability is 68%, which is extremely high. Some prospects who are currently playing in the NHL don’t have an NHL probability that high. Drake Batherson of the Ottawa Senators, for example, has played 43 NHL games over two seasons and is still only 59%… Read more »

andrew

Great article. Will be a fun draft class to follow. I didn’t believe Doug Jr saying the defensemen didn’t fall for one second. Losing Joe Pavelski was a death blow. Stats don’t always show everything, but whenever they needed a goal it was usually number 8 coming through.

david barnard

Poirier had a 1st rd grade and he fell all the way to the 3rd.

Analytics

Deep Dive into San Jose’s Prospects, Part 6: NHL Regulars?

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Lean Bergmann, San Jose Sharks
Credit: San Jose Barracuda

As we climb the ladder of San Jose Sharks prospects, we inch ever closer to those who stand a reasonable chance of playing for the big-league club. One of these next three prospects has already logged a few NHL games. All three of them offer promise for the same combination of things that help any prospect: Draft capital, scouting profile, production progression, and lack of competitive options in the Sharks pipeline.

It’s not reasonable to expect any of these players to become top-of-the-lineup material. Their trajectories arc toward complementary players at the professional level, but those are roster spots best filled with young players on cheap deals. This group of three players has a good chance to fill exactly that role even if it’s no certain thing. Welcome — to the borderline NHL regulars group!

Before you dig in, check out the rest of this deep dive into the San Jose Sharks prospects — this series began before the 2020 Draft, so it’s focused on non-2020 Draft prospects.

If you’re new to these, you can check out the introductory explainer article here — this will have all the definitions you need to know.

Part 2 looked at prospects — Jeremy Roy, Jeffrey Viel, and Jasper Weatherby — whose time is already up. And indeed, that’s the case for Roy, at least in the San Jose organization. Roy’s entry-level contract expired two weeks ago, and the the Sharks declined to offer him a new contract, making the 2015 second-round pick a UFA.

Part 3 examined players — Jonathan Dahlen, Thomas Gregoire, Jayden Halbgewachs, Nikolai Knyzhov, Maxim Letunov, Scott Reedy, and Danil Yurtaykin — who likely have just one more year left to prove themselves. Halbgewachs was recently signed to a two-year contract, which Letunov got one year.

Part 4 analyzed prospects — Zachary Gallant, Vladislav Kotkov, Jake McGrew, and Kyle Topping — who still have time left but are otherwise unlikely to become NHLers.

Part 5 focused on some of the more intriguing youngsters in the San Jose Sharks system: Zachary Emond, Joseph Garreffa, Santeri Hatakka, Krystof Hrabik, Timur Ibragimov, Zach Sawchenko, and Yegor Spiridonov.

So who are the Sharks prospects that I project to be borderline NHL regulars?

Lean Bergmann – W

Lean Bergmann played 12 games with the Sharks during the 2019-20 season. He finished the season with the big club, playing four of the team’s last seven games. In those four games he averaged just 7:54 of ice time and took just two shots on goal. 

Advanced metrics that adjust for a player’s context don’t show Bergmann in a very bright light, either. It’s too hard to take much away from a sample size of just 96 minutes of ice time, but his impact on even-strength expected goals for & against and shots for & against were all one standard deviation or more worse than average. That’s a difficult feat to accomplish given that the model in question pulls everything back toward average to begin with. 

It shouldn’t be terribly surprising that Bergmann struggled in the NHL. He was forced into a situation few 21-year-olds would envy: A team that had lost its high-end forward depth and would struggle immensely to begin a season that ended with a new head coach behind the bench. 

Lean Bergmann San Jose Sharks

Even without that context, it’s difficult to expect much from a prospect who never really got going until his age-20/21 season. As a 17- and 18-year-old in the USHL, Bergmann failed to crack the half-point-per-game mark before returning to Germany. There, he impressed, with a 0.58 point-per-game campaign. 

According to Elite Prospects, Bergmann’s scoring rate ranks ninth among 222 DEL forwards to play at least 20 games during a U21 season since 2000-01. We should note, however, that of the eight forwards ranked above him, most either scored at a higher rate at the same age or even earlier. The closest trajectory to Bergmann’s own was that of Marcel Müller. Müller played one game for the Maple Leafs but otherwise spent the better part of two North American seasons with the AHL Marlies. 

So why is Bergmann exciting? Not much exists in the way of scouting reports for the undrafted free agent. Those that are floating in the internet ether describe a combination of size, toughness, and shooting ability. 

Chris Legg of Dobber Prospects writes of someone who, for his size, “can really dangle and shoots the puck with authority.”

In an interview with The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, Barracuda General Manager Joe Will spoke of a forward who “showed character, skating, and good physio” despite a lack of production. 

A more in-depth scouting report at McKeen’s Hockey describes a player who, “has very quick hands for someone his size, and…can effectively utilize his size and strength to create offensive chances for himself.”

Usually, scouting reports that focus on size and strength aren’t incredibly encouraging. Bergmann, however, has already logged NHL time with the Sharks’ current head coach, however brief. He has skill to go along with his frame, and another year in North America should help him further acclimate to the smaller rink. According to Elite Prospects, Bergmann did score in the top one-third of 20- and 21-year-old forward seasons in the AHL since 2000-01. 

Right now, there are probably two or more spots in the San Jose Sharks’ bottom-six up for grabs. Bergmann may not necessarily have an inside track to one of them, but he has the profile and existing NHL experience to earn himself another stint with the big club whenever the 2020-21 season begins. 

Dillon Hamaliuk – W

The best thing going for Dillon Hamaliuk is his second-round draft capital. Nearly three-quarters of skaters drafted in the second round play at least one NHL game. A majority of them make it to 10 games. Part of that statistic has nothing to do with the player. NHL teams try their darndest to make expensive investments pan out: Just look at the opportunities the Sharks have given Dylan Gambrell relative to Noah Gregor. 

That something out of a player’s hands is the core reason he might make the big leagues isn’t a glowing endorsement. There’s more to the big forward’s chances than draft position, though. Byron Bader’s prospect model compares players’ scoring rates to those of thousands of other drafted players. After his draft season, Hamaliuk had a 45 percent chance to become a regular NHLer. 

Dillon Hamaliuk San Jose Sharks NHLe

Only about 40 percent of second-round skaters go on to play 80 NHL games, which we’ll consider makes them “regular.” If we knew nothing but the winger’s scoring rates at the time of the draft, we could safely assume he was following the trajectory of so many other second-round picks before him to the NHL. 

Jeremy Davis, formerly of Canucks Army, also built a prospect evaluation model. Davis ranked Hamaliuk as the 2019 draft’s 30th-best prospect. He was involved in more than 21 percent of his team’s 5-on-5 goals but had just a 19 percent chance of making the NHL. This discrepancy hints at Hamaliuk’s play behind the raw scoring totals. 

The season before his draft year, Hamaliuk’s impact on his team’s scoring network was poor. In other words, he was overly reliant on strong teammates for his scoring. We can excuse him for that as a young rookie playing in a tough WHL. The concern is that his inability to score without strong teammates has stayed with him.

Highlight reels, which are supposed to highlight a player’s ceiling, quickly become repetitive. Hamaliuk is scoring goals, often from up close and after rebounds and around the blue paint. He is rarely making a pass or creating a play. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every team needs finishers. His brand of scoring probably just means he’ll need a sharp center to play with if we are to expect exciting goal totals moving forward. 

He makes the most of his teammates’ playmaking, however. InStat has tracked shot and expected goal differential since September 2018. Hamaliuk has been on the wrong side of the shot share ledger more often than not. Where he thrives is being on the ice for a high volume of expected goals. 

That isn’t a surprise. To quickly peruse a handful of scouting reports, I fed them to a word cloud generator. 

Dillon Hamaliuk San Jose Sharks Scouting Report

(Word cloud algorithm and image from Jason Davies)

You can see that some of the most prominent words in his reports have to do with strength, power, and the net front. There are also adjectives, including “decent,” “effective,” “solid,” and “good.” Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but they aren’t effusive reviews, either.  

The 2019-20 season was a challenge for Hamaliuk. Per Sheng Peng, he came down with mono in November and his scoring rates understandably fell. Per Elite Prospects, the power forward scored 0.7 points per game in September and October. In November and December, he scored just five points in 14 games. 

In Peng’s interview, Doug Wilson Jr. mentions that Hamaliuk was finally back and healthy three weeks before the interview, which would have been about the beginning of February. During the 15 games between February 2 and the end of the season, Hamaliuk scored 11 points, back at his 0.7 point-per-game rate from earlier. It’s good to see him rebound. It’s hard to get excited about a 19-year-old not cracking the point-per-game threshold in junior hockey. 

Hamaliuk’s statistical and scouting profiles point to someone who is good once the puck is in the offensive zone but who may not be helpful getting it there. His calling cards are his size and strength, which aren’t scouting terms that typically portend high-level success. His second-round draft position and the Sharks’ love of power forwards should provide Hamaliuk ample opportunity. Realistically, his NHL career arc is one of an effective bottom-six player.

Alexei Melnichuk – G

San Jose signed Alexei Melnichuk to a two-year entry-level deal in May this year. The Russian goaltender turned 22 one month later and is poised to play spoiler to the other goaltending prospects in the pipeline. 

It’s difficult to get a good read on goalies because there is so little information available about those who do not play in the NHL already. The best approach for Melnichuk might be to compare him to another goaltender whom he followed up the ladder in the St. Petersburg program: Igor Shestyorkin (Shesterkin).

Shestyorkin made his triumphant arrival at the NHL level this season for the New York Rangers as a 24-year-old. Melnichuk served as Shestyorkin’s understudy in the MHL, VHL, and KHL, tracking about two seasons behind Shestyorkin.

For example, Shestyorkin played his first KHL games during his age-17/18 season. Melnichuk didn’t see KHL time until he was 19. Here’s a comparison of the two goalies save percentages in the leagues in which they played the most games in a given season. 

Shestyorkin’s save percentages are much stronger than the Sharks’ free agent signing up until this past season.

This year, Melnichuk’s 0.930 in the KHL was very similar to Shestyorkin’s 0.933 during his age-20/21 season. The major difference? Shestyorkin accomplished this while playing nearly twice as many games. 

If the Rangers’ new No. 1 didn’t make the leap to the NHL until his age-23/24 season, it’s hard to believe Melnichuk will arrive much sooner. This is a very rough estimate, of course, but if Melnichuk is tracking about two seasons behind his older compatriot, then the earliest we should expect him in a San Jose Sharks uniform is the 2023-24 season. 

It’s exciting to have a young goalie with a track record of professional success. If Shestyorkin can be a star in the NHL, maybe Melnichuk can be an average goalie? That’s an ideal situation for an undrafted addition at a position of need.

Looking Ahead

This series covers 33 San Jose Sharks prospects in total, and doesn’t include 2020 Draft picks.

After this installment, eight skaters — about 25 percent of the total prospect pool — remain. Byron Bader’s database of historical draft picks says about 25 percent of all skaters (no goaltenders included) chosen in the Draft become NHL regulars. That places Bergmann and Hamaliuk right on the cusp of future NHL regular material. Melnichuk is in a different category, but his relatively promising track record and immediate access to the San Jose Barracuda’s crease give him a strong chance, as of this writing, of becoming an NHL regular.

There’s nothing certain about this group of players, but it feels safe to call them future borderline NHL regulars.

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Locked On Sharks

Get to Know Thomas Bordeleau

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Thomas Bordeleau

Kyle, Erik, and JD look at San Jose Sharks second-round draft pick Thomas Bordeleau. We dig into his statistical profiling and what draft scouts are saying about him (10:00). Then we talk about what he needs to work on before getting to the NHL (14:00) and compare a hard shot vs. an accurate shot (18:30). We then project his timeline for reaching the San Jose Sharks. Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

 

 

Keep up with all things San Jose Sharks here:

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Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network.
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San Jose Barracuda

BREAKING: Ivan Chekhovich Will Play in KHL for ENTIRE Season

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Credit: San Jose Barracuda

San Jose Hockey Now has learned that Ivan Chekhovich will skate for HC Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod for the entirety of the 2020-21 KHL season.

Chekhovich will not be returning to North America when 2020-21 San Jose Sharks training camp opens.

The Sharks retain Chekhovich’s rights; this is a full-season loan.

The prospect will attempt to find his game in his native Russia after a difficult 2019-20 with the San Jose Barracuda.

Coming off a 105-point QMJHL campaign in 2018-19, Chekhovich was expected to adjust quickly to professional play. Instead, his production and time on ice sagged in his first full professional season. The 2017 San Jose Sharks seventh-round pick scored just four goals and 12 points in 42 games, and according to InStat Hockey, was San Jose’s least-used forward, averaging under 12 minutes per night.

Exclusive: San Jose Barracuda Time on Ice Revealed

He was also healthy scratched on multiple occasions, as recently as two games before the pause.

Co-head coach Mike Chiasson revealed on March 7th: “I think it’s a compete thing for him right now.”

It was truly an up-and-down season for the offensive winger. Despite his general lack of productivity, Chiasson and co-head coach Jimmy Bonneau had praised Chekhovich’s coachability and work ethic in February and January:

“I can’t find my game, honestly. It’s not the game I want to see,” Chekovich said candidly in January. “Everybody expects way more from me. It’s kind of pressure.”

So now Chekhovich, like fellow San Jose Sharks prospect Jonathan Dahlen, will get a chance to find his scoring touch at home. Dahlen struggled too in the AHL in 2018-19 before returning home to Sweden to play for Timra IK. After leading Allsvenskan in scoring in 2019-20, Dahlen is on fire once again, putting up 12 points in just 5 games so far this year.

“The idea is to play rather than sit around,” Chekhovich’s agent Mark Gandler told San Jose Hockey Now.

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