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Sharks Locker Room: On San Jose’s Recent Draft Record & Kaprizov



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

David Quinn kept it real after the San Jose Sharks’ 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.

“They got Kaprizov and we don’t,” Quinn said of Wild star winger Kirill Kaprizov. “That was really the difference in the game tonight. He scores goals that a lot of guys can’t score in this league.”

On the surface, Quinn is right, that San Jose lacks a true gamebreaker like Kaprizov. Mikael Granlund, Nico Sturm, and Anthony Duclair scored for the Sharks, but Kaprizov’s hat trick, which included both the game-tying and winning goals, would ultimately prove to be the difference.

Looking deeper, of course, Kaprizov isn’t the sole reason why San Jose was outshot 32-15 and outattempted 55-27 at 5-on-5 and outchanced 13-5 on High Danger Chances at Even Strength. The last-place Sharks have more problems than one player.

Kaprizov’s dominance reminded me of something else: The Sharks haven’t drafted well in the later rounds for a while.

Kaprizov was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft. He’s also one of just 12 forwards to average 1.2 Points Per Game or more from 2022 to now.

Not shockingly, the best way to find a forward as prolific as Kaprizov is at the top of the Draft: Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, and Jack Hughes were all first-overall picks. Leon Draisaitl and Mitch Marner were top-five. Matthew Tkachuk and Mikko Rantanen were top-10.

David Pastrnak (late first round), Nikita Kucherov (second round), Artemi Panarin (undrafted), and Kaprizov are the exceptions to the rule in this select dozen.

So naturally, there’s good reason for Sharks fans to pin their hopes on 2023 fourth-overall pick Will Smith or whoever they draft in the top-five this year.

But there are gems to be found late, and the Sharks haven’t been finding them lately.

Since the 2015 Draft, there have been 22 players selected outside of the first two rounds, including Kaprizov, who have played over 250 games. The Sharks have selected none of those players, which include some very useful ones like Kaprizov, Adam Fox, and Anthony Cirelli.

22 players, of course, means other teams have missed like the Sharks have. But that doesn’t absolve San Jose either: One of the reasons why the Sharks have missed the playoffs since 2020 is a series of unproductive drafts, early or late.

And early or late, it’s important to hit on your picks. We’ll see if a Danil Gushchin, 2020 third-rounder, or a Jake Furlong, 2022 fifth-rounder, for example, can help turn things around in San Jose.

Nico Sturm

Sturm, on the San Jose Sharks’ performance tonight:

We didn’t have a lot of energy today. You can see that our forecheck wasn’t as effective as last night. It’s the NHL, we played a tough back-to-back. But I thought for the most part, we played extremely well today. We managed the game because we knew we weren’t at our best today.

Sturm, on Kahkonen’s performance:

I know he was eager to play that game.

I think it’s tough for a goalie, a game like today where we come in extremely late, guys aren’t feeling well, a little sickness going through the team as well, he knows going into game that he’s probably gonna face a lot of shots.

He did well today, gave us a chance to get some points.

Kaapo Kahkonen

Kahkonen, on any different emotions going into this game, playing against the Wild, as opposed to backing up against them:

Not much different. I mean, when you’re not playing, you almost have more time on your hands and you’re seeing all the familiar faces and I’m talking to them a little more maybe. But you’re playing a game, obviously you’re a bit more busy with doing that.

Kahkonen, on solace that the San Jose Sharks are playing close games:

A few times this year when the games have gotten out of hand, obviously we’re saying that’s not the way [we play], we have to battle, we have to keep these games tight.

Now it’s a tight game and you still lose, well, what’s the difference, really?

But the positive is that we’re battling, it’s the second half of a back-to-back with travel.

We’re focusing on our game, and like I said, playing for each other, even though there’s a bunch of injuries, guys are sick. That’s all you can really ask for, I think.

David Quinn

Quinn, on Jan Rutta as a stabilizing force:

He’s been outstanding. He had a really strong game today. He’s had a really good road trip. He’s played really good hockey here the last two weeks. He’s had a good year for us and he means a lot to us on and off the ice.

Quinn, on hopefully keeping Duclair past the Trade Deadline:

He’s a great personality. He’s playing really good hockey. Certainly, we all understand the situation we’re in. We hate to see him go. But our organization obviously has decisions to make and that’s out of my hands.

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