There’s often too much emphasis placed on where a team is drafting and not enough of an emphasis on where a team isn’t drafting.
Case in point, the San Jose Sharks and Finland.
From 2009-18, the Sharks drafted zero players from Finland. This is book-ended by goaltender Harri Sateri in 2008 and defenseman Santeri Hatakka last year.
This is unusual. In this 10-year period, San Jose is one of just three franchises (not counting the relatively-new Vegas Golden Knights) that did not draft a Finn. And while the Sharks selected Hatakka last year, both the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals haven’t drafted a Finnish-born player since 2006.
|Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators||8|
|Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues||6|
|Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins||5|
|Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets||4|
|Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings||3|
|Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils||2|
|Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals||0|
It’s been 25 years since San Jose has drafted an impact player from Finland — they drafted two in 1995: Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala.
Anyway, this isn’t to suggest that the San Jose Sharks haven’t been scouting Finland. Three years ago, they hired Tomi Kallio specifically to cover Finland. Before that, other European scouts, like Sweden-based Shin Larsson, made the trek. I’m sure there have been Finnish players that they’ve liked over the years but just missed on.
But there’s something to be said about having boots on the ground — or boots on home ground — which ESPN Draft and prospects analyst Chris Peters alluded to in yesterday’s podcast at the 17:25 mark.
Scouts do bang the table for their own guy.
The teams who drafted the most Finns from 2009-18, with the exception of Carolina — Dallas, Florida, and Nashville — have had long-time Finland-based scouts.
Kari Takko has been the Stars’ Director of European Scouting for 20 years. Jari Kekäläinen has been with the Panthers since 2002, Director of European Scouting for the last three years. Janne Kekäläinen has been with the Predators since their expansion campaign.
On the flipside, the teams who did not draft Finns from 2009-18 — Philadelphia, San Jose, and Washington — don’t have scouts from Finland as entrenched as Takko and the Kekäläinens, at least at the moment.
Ilkka Sinisalo was with the Flyers from 2004-17, but in the last three years, they’ve had a Finland-based scout in only one of those years. Kallio is the Sharks’ first Finnish scout since, actually, Sinisalo in 2000. Petri Skriko, who left the Capitals in 2016, was their last Finnish scout.
Anyway, the San Jose Sharks have Kallio now. And he was a big part of selecting Hatakka last year, as he revealed in this Q&A:
So will we see a fresh wave of Finns hitting San Jose soon? I’d expect so.
Agent on UFA Gridlock, Gambrell & Kellman on Jumbo’s Departure
The free agency gridlock is real — and according to an agent, there’s no end in the sight.
It’s not just the money being handed out, or lack thereof, it’s also the rush, or lack thereof, to sign guys.
To illustrate, 19 days into free agency, six of TSN’s final top-20 free agents are still on the board: Mike Hoffman, Erik Haula, Corey Perry, Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, and Sami Vatanen.
Last summer, just two of TSN’s top-20 were available after 12 days of free agency: Ben Hutton and Jake Gardiner.
“The length of time until the season starts is probably affecting [this off-season’s free agents],” an agent told San Jose Hockey Now. “There’s not much rush right now since who knows when NHL camps even open?”
This is on top of revenue concerns that every organization is facing.
So the teams are in no rush to commit — and in some cases, the players aren’t either.
This particular agent agreed that players might see better offers once there’s more certainty with when the 2020-21 season will begin.
So while we know there are multiple teams in on the likes of Hoffman, Haula, and Conor Sheary, it might be a while yet before all these dominos fall.
No Conor Sheary Update
Speaking of Sheary, San Jose Hockey Now broke last week that the San Jose Sharks were talking to his camp.
At the moment, however, SJHN doesn’t have an additional Sheary update.
That’s no surprise. It is, after all, an unusually stagnant market.
Gambrell, Kellman on Thornton
A week and a half ago, when Joe Thornton left the San Jose Sharks for Toronto, San Jose Hockey Now reached out to a few Sharks to ask them about Jumbo’s departure.
Kevin Labanc was quick to reply; over the last week, a couple more Sharks have responded.
Dylan Gambrell texted: “Huge loss, big presence, and has been such a key piece for the Sharks for a very long time. Someone I looked up to very much and learned a ton from.
“I wish him nothing but the best and you can ask just about anyone how much he’ll be missed. With that said, it’s up to us as a team to step up and make up for that presence going forward and I know we have the guys in the locker room to do that.”
Gambrell, who the San Jose Sharks hope can step up to help fill Thornton’s void on the ice, has spent most of the last half-year in Denver. The 24-year-old forward plans to be in San Jose in about a week, to join the likes of Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Labanc, who have been skating together.
Meanwhile, over 5,000 miles away, Joel Kellman won’t be back soon — he’s playing for Allsvenskan’s Kristianstads IK right now.
Kellman messaged SJHN about the San Jose Sharks legend: “I was so happy I got to play with him for a couple months! He was just a true professional, always working hard on and off the ice. That’s why he’s been good for so many years.”
Meeting Mr. Robins
Erik and JD look into the second of the San Jose Sharks’ two second-round draft picks, Tristen Robbins. We review his statistical profile and where he lands on some draft models. Then, we look at his tape to determine his strengths and weaknesses (8:00) as well as why his numbers exploded over the second half of the season. We finish by looking at his timeline for making the NHL (18:00). Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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