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Scouts Talk Sharks Rookie Tourney | SJHN+

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Is William Eklund ready for the NHL? How about Ryan Merkley? Who else stood out for the San Jose Sharks during the 2021 Rookie Faceoff Tournament?

Three NHL scouts who were in Arizona offered their insights to San Jose Hockey Now about Eklund, Merkley, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Santeri Hatakka, Jasper Weatherby, Artemi Kniazev, and Tristen Robins’s performances.

They also liked Danil Gushchin, Scott Reedy, Brandon Coe, Timur Ibragimov, and Kyle Topping, but didn’t have a lot to say about those San Jose Sharks prospects.

Keep in mind that these were their impressions after a small sample size of three whole games — take all their thoughts with a grain of salt.

William Eklund

Scout #2: I thought Eklund was a good player for an ’02 born. He’s tricky. He’s really, really smart.

Eklund really impressed me quite a bit in his hockey sense. I really liked his ability to find open space to receive the puck. He really wanted the puck and he was dangerous with it at good speed. Good tight turns and mobility. And he’s clever. He understands his size and how to operate in a bigger man’s game.

I thought this kid’s gonna be a guy that picks up and learns the game quickly. Just like Wiesblatt, same type of process.

I think that’s too rich [expecting him in the NHL this year]. It’s really hard. You have to be really careful.

Scout #3: It’s a stretch [to expect him in the NHL this year]. He’s too raw.

[Eklund and Wiesblatt] were the two forwards who impressed me the most on the Sharks.

But he wasn’t a bona fide standout — this guy is better than everyone else.

Tristen Robins

Scout #3: Robins was fine. I liked his compete with or without the puck. He worked to hang onto pucks. Deceptive strength for a small guy.

Jasper Weatherby

Scout #2: He had some nice tools. Good skater. Looked smart enough. His game looks fairly mature.

He’s a better skater than Reedy.

Scout #3: He reminded me a little bit of Alexander True. Big guy, they put him net front on the power play. He skates a little better than True, but True is probably a smarter player.

Ozzy Wiesblatt

Scout #2: I think that he improved from the last time I saw him when he played [AHL] games early in the year. He’s come back and he looked like he’s figured out spacing a little bit better. He’s figured out how he can impact games.

Scout #3: He kind of plays with a little fire in his belly. He seemed to play a little better when he was angry.

Santeri Hatakka

Scout #1: I thought Hatakka was good. He was really playing physical, standing up, and had a good, full defensive package. He was not afraid to get going with the puck.

Scout #3: Hatakka and Kniazev were [the San Jose Sharks’] best two defensemen [in the tournament].

Artemi Kniazev

Scout #2: I thought he had really good mobility. I thought his reads were real good. I liked his lateral movement. I thought he closed well on players. I thought he was smart.

He had good position down low. I thought he managed it okay. There were some size issues a little bit with some players, but that’s teachable. I liked what he brought to the table.

Ryan Merkley

Scout #1: I’d be absolutely terrified if either [Merkley or Brinson Pasichnuk] are playing in your line-up next year.

Pasichnuk doesn’t skate very well.

Merkley fundamentally doesn’t know how to defend. And he’s not very strong. One of those problems is detrimental and he’s got two of them.

Scout #2: I thought he played with decent control. I didn’t mind him. I thought he was pretty good.

I see him as a smart player. But he still has to get better at defending men.

Scout #3: Merkley was much better in Game One than he was in Game Two and Three. I thought he was actually better in two than three.

His blueline play is so high risk, high reward. He tries to do some things, he kind of scares the hell out of you.

I feel his compete level just kind of wavers. He’s easy to play against. If I’m parking out front, he’s gonna give you a couple feet. You can get inside position, you can kind of have your way if you want.

He doesn’t look like he’s any closer to being an NHL player than the last time I saw him.

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timorous me

Really good insights (here and in other articles). The defense situation for this team is kind of fascinating and frustrating. I don’t see how Merkley can fit in–it’s disappointing, though hard to blame the team for taking a shot on him. It feels like Hatakka and Kniazev might be ready for full-time roles in a year or less. For all the talk about Vlasic and others, the Simek extension feels kind of unfathomable to me. At least there was a significant history with Vlasic, a talent level with Burns and Karlsson. But now, even if you move Vlasic to the… Read more »

david barnard

i had concerns with the Simek deal as well at the time that weren’t widely shared here.

i’ve heard Chris MacFarland from Avs is next one up. as for HC’s, Rikard Gronborg would be interesting and fit with our Euro owner.

Last edited 25 days ago by david barnard
Zymurge

Substitute the name Karlsson for Merkley in the scouting on him and it fits to a tee. But at least Merkley still has a chance to learn the discipline it takes to apply yourself in your own zone. Make it clear to him that’s his gate to get called up. If he can just not be horrible on D his offensive game is elite enough to get him NHL minutes.

They're All Gonna Laugh at Me!

Just push Merks to wing, you know, the backwards Burns.

[…] Is William Eklund ready for the NHL? How about Ryan Merkley? Who else stood out for the San Jose Sharks during the 2021 Rookie Faceoff Tournament? Three NHL scouts who were in Arizona offered their insights to San Jose Hockey Now about Eklund, Merkley, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Santeri Hatakka, Jasper Weatherby, Artemi Kniazev, and Tristen Robins’s performances. (San Jose Hockey Now) […]

andrew

Once again, its another 6th rounder who looks like a future NHLer. Hatakka isn’t going to be under the radar for much longer.

[…] what seemed so unlikely at the beginning of training camp — the 2021 first-round pick did not wow at the recent rookie tournament and the last teen San Jose Sharks draft pick to debut in the NHL in […]

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