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Grier, Sharks Scouts Talk Smith’s ‘Fire’, Musty’s Package, Passing on Michkov

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Credit: Dan Kingerski

NASHVILLE – There were almost as many Matvei Michkov questions as there were Will Smith ones in the San Jose Sharks’ post-first round availability.

The Sharks picked USNTDP center Smith No. 4 and Sudbury Wolves winger Quentin Musty No. 26, but for GM Mike Grier, director of player personnel Scott Fitzgerald, and director of amateur scouting Chris Morehouse, those weren’t the only stories.

Before the Draft, Fitzgerald said the San Jose Sharks were looking, perhaps more than anything, for “competitive skill.”

Fitzgerald Says Sharks Looking for ‘Competitive Skill’ in Draft

It’s not about size, it’s not about grit – it’s about compete combined with skill.

“Regardless of size, we want all our players to have pushback, right?,” Fitzgerald said about the smaller Smith and the bigger Musty. “That’s the main component of what we’re trying to do here is that competitive skill, regardless of your size. It’s a prerequisite.”

To that end, in his pre-Draft availability, Grier went out of his way to praise the uber-skilled Smith’s “competitive fire.” For me, that was either a smokescreen or a telltale sign that the Sharks really wanted the 6-foot-0 Smith at No. 4.

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“It’s easy to notice and see Will’s ability, his hockey sense and skill-set. But there’s a lot of fire between his ears,” Morehouse said of the centerman who registered 127 points in just 60 games for the USNTDP this season. “When you get a chance to sit down with him and go through the process we have over the last couple of months, really digging into his character, that’s a huge part of it for us. When you have that level of talent, you make the other players around you that much better on the ice, you back it up with that competitive fire and wanting to be the best, that’s a really, really nice package to have.”

The 6-foot-2 Musty had that “prerequisite” competitive skill too.

“He has size, reach, he has skill level, he could score goals,” Morehouse indicated. “Certainly, in the second half of the year, he took off a little bit in Sudbury. When you have that type of package to go along with he’s a big boy, we’re just thrilled to have that talent along with size and the reach, and also the ability to score.”

As for Michkov? Like he did yesterday, Grier declined to confirm whether or not the Sharks met with the Russian winger, who was taking meetings this week in Nashville.

“The Michkov thing, it kind of is what it is. We had some concerns,” Grier shared. “He’s a special talent on the ice, there’s no doubt about that. Super-skilled, can do things a lot of other players can’t. But there were some things that we weren’t completely satisfied with to be able to take someone with a fourth-overall pick.”

Michkov went seventh-overall to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Beyond Smith, Musty, and Michkov, Grier also said yesterday that the San Jose Sharks were “probably” going to select a goalie this week. They had been linked with consensus top goalie Michael Hrabal, who was not selected today. Did they consider a netminder, perhaps one of top prospects Hrabal, Carson Bjarnason, Adam Gajan, or Trey Augustine, at No. 26?

“There’s guys that we considered, for sure. But the way that board kind of fell and was shaping up, we got the two best players available when we were picking,” Grier said.

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Finally, Pierre LeBrun reported that the Sharks had a “number of teams calling on their [No. 4] pick.” Yesterday, Grier said it would take an “overwhelming” offer to pry that pick away. Did they get anything close?

“Not really.”

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