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Is This Most Exciting Group of Sharks Prospects Ever?



Credit: USA Hockey

Is this the most exciting group of Sharks prospects in franchise history?

Headlined by 2023 fourth-overall pick Will Smith and 2021 seventh-overall William Eklund, the Sharks are expected to have two top-six forwards, both possibly first-liners, in hand. Defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin, center Filip Bystedt, and winger Quentin Musty are consensus choices to round out San Jose’s top-five prospects.

“Exciting” is the keyword here – obviously, we have no idea right now how Smith or any of these prospects’ careers will turn out.

But there’s buzz around the Sharks system that we haven’t seen for a long time, which is the upside of San Jose missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, after two decades of constant Cup contention. And the buzz should only get louder, even if Eklund and Henry Thrun graduate – the Sharks are expected to get a top-five pick in the 2024 Draft, they also have the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-rounder (top-10 protected) from the Erik Karlsson trade, and the New Jersey Devils’ first-rounder (if the Devils make the Eastern Conference Finals) from the Timo Meier trade.

Anyway, to figure out if this is indeed the most exciting group of Sharks prospects yet, I turned to two men who have covered the franchise from the beginning, Hall of Famer and voice of the Sharks Dan Rusanowsky and Mercury News scribe Mark Purdy. I also reached out to an NHL scout who has seen a couple generations of Sharks prospects.

To streamline the decision-making, I asked Rusanowsky and Purdy to only judge pre-season top-10 Sharks prospects lists from The Hockey News Yearbook (from 1991 to 2020) and San Jose Hockey Now (from 2021 to 2023). And once again, we’re not looking at career results, but the buzz around the prospects at the time.

If you want to judge yourself, I collected 33 years of pre-season Sharks prospects rankings from THN and SJHN, 1991 to 1999, 2000 to 2009, and 2010 to 2023.

Sharks Top-10 Prospects Rankings: 1991 to 1999

Sharks Top-10 Prospects Rankings: 2000 to 2009

Sharks Top-10 Prospects Rankings: 2010 to 2023

Here are our choices for the top-three most exciting Sharks prospects classes ever, in order, along with some additional observations.

Read the Full Article at NBC Sports Bay Area

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