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NHL Scouts Give Sharks’ Draft, Kunin Trade Enthusiastic Grades



MONTREAL – Some San Jose Sharks fans weren’t thrilled with the team’s Draft.

That’s what happens when a team trades out of the No. 11 slot for the No. 27, 34, and 45 picks – and selects a 42nd-ranked prospect, according to Bob McKenzie’s final Draft rankings, with their first-rounder.

But how did other NHL organizations see the Sharks’ Draft?

I spoke with four NHL scouts from outside organizations, who offered their thoughts about most of the San Jose Sharks’ picks, and in some cases, gave grades. One scout was particularly enthusiastic about assistant general manager Tim Burke and director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr.’s overall work, giving their Draft an A-.

Another scout also commented on the Luke Kunin trade.

Filip Bystedt

Scout #1: Maybe a reach? Kind of Nathan Gaucher-like, but not as competitive. But big, skates well, can shoot it, good defensively. Don’t love his hockey sense and is a little soft for his size. (Grade: B-)

Scout #2: Big center. Great skater. Looks like a stud. Has underachieved a bit.

Scout #3: I don’t like the value [of the trade] for the Sharks. Everyone’s [draft pick valuation charts] are different. Ours don’t have it that way. No. 11 is a high pick.

Sheng’s grade: C+. We don’t know how the board was falling – maybe the Sharks had some sense that Bystedt wouldn’t even make it to No. 34 – but drafting the 6-foot-4 center in the first has been much questioned post-Draft. You wonder if the Sharks could’ve spun No. 27 into another two picks and still got Bystedt? As for the player himself, he’s a big, toolsy project who sounds like he can be a home run if he hits. So Tim Burke, Doug Wilson Jr., and company may have the last laugh yet.

Cameron Lund

Scout #1: Lund is a great pick. High ceiling, super-skilled, and talented. Big, not a lot of holes in his game. His second half was very good. Tough team in Green Bay, they got beat up a lot. When he is engaged in the game, he is an excellent offensive player. Can be inconsistent and disinterested at times. (A)

Scout #2: Like it. Size, speed, and skill. Good shot. He’s a really talented and athletic kid. Needs to put more effort into the defensive side of the game.

Sheng’s grade: B. Like Bystedt, the 6-foot-2 Lund is a big, toolsy package. Maybe the second-rounder will make fans forget about the San Jose Sharks passing on snipers like Jonathan Lekkerimaki or Joakim Kemell at No. 11.

Mattias Havelid

Scout #1: Excellent puck mover, excellent skater, sees many plays. Size will be tough – he is competitive, but gets overmatched, struggles defending. But not for lack of will. His puck-moving game is one of the better in the Draft. The type of 5-foot-10 that makes it. (A-)

Scout #2: Havelid is a stud! Was the best defenseman at the U-18’s.

Sheng’s grade: A. The San Jose Sharks lack a high-end defensive prospect, maybe the 5-foot-10 second-rounder will develop into that?

Michael Fisher

Scout #1: Very physically talented. Great skater. (B+)

Scout #2: Big and can really, really skate.

Sheng’s grade: A-. The third-round selection dominated in the less-seen high school levels, but it sounds like the Sharks have a diamond in the rough. The 6-foot-2 blueliner is not going this low if he had played in a more prominent league.

Mason Beaupit

Sheng’s grade: B-. Last year’s third-rounder Ben Gaudreau has shown promise between the pipes for the Sarnia Sting, but it’s good to take as many shots as possible at finding the San Jose Sharks’ goalie of the future. The 6-foot-5 fourth-rounder is another lottery ticket.

Jake Furlong

Scout #1: Furlong is kind of a jack of all trades, master of none. Needs to figure out a role [in the higher leagues].

Sheng’s grade: B-. The 6-foot-1 defender enjoyed a breakout campaign in Halifax, going from 10 points to 42. The fifth round looks like an appropriate Draft position.

Joey Muldowney

Scout #1: There’s your out-of-left-field high school Sharks guy. Offensive talent, but small and kind of one-dimensional.

Sheng’s grade: B. At a certain point, you’re just taking swings. This is the sixth round. Like Fisher, maybe the 5-foot-10 forward was underappreciated because he dominated preps.

Eli Barnett

Sheng’s grade: C. 6-foot-6 Barnett’s 13 points in 53 BCHL games don’t suggest enough puck-moving upside to evolve into an NHL defenseman, but Willie Mitchell and Matt Irwin are a couple examples of BCHL alumni rearguards who didn’t score much in their Draft-eligible years but blossomed into NHL regulars. Either Mitchell or Irwin would be a terrific result for a seventh-round selection.

Reese Laubach

Scout #1: I don’t have anything on him.

Sheng’s grade: A. Gotta love picking the local kid. They’re all longshots at this point. Laubach’s got as good a chance as any seventh-rounder.

2022 Draft

Scout #2: I’d give the Sharks an A-. They maximized value. Loved the move down and the players they got, especially Havelid and Lund.

Luke Kunin

Scout #4: I’d give the trade a B+.

I like his competitiveness and identity, but impact can be low some nights for me.

Still fairly young but doesn’t possess the high-end skill-set to be a top-six on a contender.

I don’t see a full-time NHL player in Leonard. From a value standpoint, I like it.

REACTION: Sharks Acquire Kunin for Leonard, Pick

Sheng’s grade: B. The Sharks need help in a lot of places, the third line is one of them. This is a fair swap – John Leonard is not considered a top prospect and a third next year can be recouped. San Jose needs more players like Kunin who are highly competitive, well-rounded, and have enough skill to hang on the top-nine.

The only real criticism of this trade? If you think the San Jose Sharks don’t have a lot of moves in them to improve this team this summer – especially if they choose not to buy out Marc-Edouard Vlasic – this isn’t a trade that changes the trajectory of the team much. Kunin isn’t a high-ceiling gamble. But he’s a playoff-caliber top-nine forward for a squad that is sorely lacking in them, and comes at a reasonable acquisition cost.

REPORT: Vlasic Doesn’t Think He’ll be Bought Out

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