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Brock Otten on Why Sharks Let Gaudreau, McCue, Gilmartin Walk

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Why did the San Jose Sharks let 2021 Draft picks Ben Gaudreau, Max McCue, and Liam Gilmartin re-enter the 2023 Draft?

I asked McKeen’s Hockey director of scouting Brock Otten, who watches the OHL closely.

Gaudreau, selected by the San Jose Sharks in the third round of the 2021 Draft, brought home the gold medal as Team Canada’s back-up at the 2023 World Junior Championships and took the Sarnia Sting to the OHL Conference Finals.

However, he was never able to surpass an .891 Save % in his three years in Sarnia.

“I still really like him as a prospect, he’s a ride-or-die for me because I loved his potential in his Draft year. But there’s concern that he just hasn’t developed all that well. Can we really say that he’s better than he was two years ago?” Otten mused. “The second half was great after he came back from that disastrous [WJC] performance…But the further Sarnia got into the playoffs, the worse his performance got.”

Canada tapped Gaudreau to open World Juniors, but the 6-foot-2 netminder gave up five goals on 17 shots in an upset 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic. It was just one game, but Thomas Milic took the ball from there and led the Canadians to the top.

“I spoke to an NHL scout recently after it was announced that he wouldn’t be signed by San Jose and they flat out said, ‘Going into the playoffs, I felt he was Sarnia’s Achilles heel and his bad performance in Game Five [of the Conference Finals] was ultimately their undoing,’” Otten shared.

Fifth-rounder McCue notched 39 points this past season for the London Knights after 35 in the previous year, settling into a bottom-six center role for the OHL finalist.

“They drafted him in that weird OHL Covid year where the players didn’t play. The hope was that McCue would develop into a high-energy shift disturber who could also chip in offensively. But McCue ended up being pretty much…what you saw is what you got,” Otten acknowledged. “He was a valuable role player for London this year, unquestionably. But, at this point, just not an NHL prospect.”

Sixth-round winger Gilmartin put up 34 points for the Erie Otters this past season after 34 for the Knights in the previous year.

“The reality is that the puck skill and ability to play with pace just never developed at the OHL level. London realized that and moved him to Erie,” Otten said. “With the Otters, he was merely a physical support player. F1. Drive the net. But puck play is a weakness. I really liked Gilmartin in his Draft year, but I think San Jose ultimately made the right choice here.”

McKeen’s Hockey, by the way, has just released their final 2023 Draft rankings. Who do they have at No. 4 for the San Jose Sharks?

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