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When Will Top NCAA Free Agent Make NHL Debut? Why Did He Sign With Sharks?



Welcome to San Jose, Collin Graf!

The prized NCAA free agent, who signed with San Jose yesterday, practiced with the Sharks for the first time today.

Graf was on the right wing, flanked by William Eklund on the left, Luke Kunin in the middle.

San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn wasn’t sure if Graf would make his NHL debut against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday or the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday – he wanted to check on how Graf was feeling after a late cross-country flight yesterday – but Quinn expects Graf to play this weekend.

Graf shared that he has family coming in tomorrow.

So why did Graf, 24 NHL teams after him, according to TSN, choose the Sharks?

“I’d say the honesty. They were honest with me,” Graf said.

Quinn alluded to that yesterday.

“The organization’s done a great job of laying out an opportunity for people. I think we’ve proven that,” he said.

Preview/Lines #75: David Quinn Shares His Recruiting Pitch for College Free Agents Like Collin Graf

But most importantly, it’s a realistic path. Quinn envisions Graf growing with the Sharks, as they try to climb back to respectability over the next couple of years.

“You want people that want the truth,” he said. “We’re not making false promises, we’re promising and offering an opportunity, but what you do with it is up to you.”

What that exact path is, it’s unclear, but it must have been a compelling argument. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt that the rebuilding Sharks should have plenty of opportunity in their line-up in the coming years.

“One thing we used to talk about, wherever I worked in college, was if anyone’s telling you you’re going to be on the first power play, the first line, run away,” Quinn said. “The people that want to hear the other part of it, you don’t want them anyway.”

Graf, a Massachusetts native, also cited the many New Englanders in the San Jose Sharks organization like Mike Grier, Quinn, Scott Fitzgerald, Tim Burke, Henry Thrun, and more in the organization as making him feel comfortable, even though he only knows one well.

“I actually played against [Thrun] at Harvard. I skated with him growing up, same skating coach, and in the summer, play 3-on-3 with him,” Graf said. “He picked me up from the hotel this morning. He gave me the rundown. He’s going to drive me back, hopefully.”

And of course?

“The weather ain’t bad here either,” he smiled.

Graf revealed this is the first time in his life that he’s been west of North Dakota.

So what are the San Jose Sharks getting with Graf?

“I think that it’s fast, trying to make plays, but 200-foot game,” he said. “Playmaking, I think I think the game pretty well. I can make quick plays. So that’s what I’d say my strength is.”

NHL Scouts Talk Collin Graf’s Ceiling (+)

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