Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz will present 10 suggestions (one per weekday) for what the Sharks should do before training camp opens in mid-September. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
No. 7 -- Keep stockpiling prospects
Part of what made the Sharks’ trade deadline so successful was general manager Doug Wilson’s ability to stockpile picks in the upcoming draft in New Jersey on June 30. Douglas Murray, Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus all brought at least one pick back to San Jose, including a pair of second rounders for Murray (from Pittsburgh) and Clowe (from New York).
San Jose has four picks in the first two rounds, including its own first round choice (20th overall). The Sharks are one of just five teams that have that many picks in the top 60 (Buffalo, Dallas, Montreal and Winnipeg are the others), and Wilson has said many times he considers this a good draft.
“When we made the decisions that we did, we felt at that point we couldn’t afford any unrestricted free agent players [leaving] and not get assets back in a very strong draft year,” Wilson said after the season, a day before leaving for the NHL combine.
It’s been noted more than once that the Sharks are the only NHL team to not have a draft pick from the last four years on their roster. The club has had just two first round picks in the last five years, and one of them (Charlie Coyle), is playing in Minnesota after he was a part of the Brent Burns deal two seasons ago.
Restocking the minor league system/prospect pool should be a priority as the core group continues to get older, and fortunately the organization seems to have realized that based on its trade deadline activity.
The Sharks’ most obvious need is more offense in the system. Their American Hockey League affiliate in Worcester has missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, primarily because it can’t put the puck in the net. In 2012-13, Worcester was 23rd of 30 teams in goals scored. The previous year, it was 26th, and in 2010-11, it was 27th.
The search for offensive prospects already appears to be in full swing. In 2012 in Pittsburgh, the Sharks used their first four picks on forwards, including Tomas Hertl, who is expected to challenge for a roster spot in the fall. In 2011, four of their six picks were centers or wingers, and in 2010 each of their first four picks as on a forward. Freddie Hamilton, chosen in the fifth round in 2010, appears to be the most NHL-ready forward in the system other than Hertl, but is still far from a surefire NHL player.
Expect the Sharks to continue looking for talent, especially on offense, with their abundance of picks in New Jersey. They’ll need it sooner than later.
Sharks 2013 draft picks:
First round (1) - San Jose
Second round (3) - San Jose, New York Rangers (for Ryane Clowe), Pittsburgh (for Douglas Murray)
Third round (0) - From New York for Ryane Clowe, traded to Phoenix for Raffi Torres; traded to Minnesota for James Sheppard
Fourth round (1) - San Jose (re-acquired from Chicago for Michal Handzus)
Fifth round (1) - San Jose
Sixth round (0) - Traded to Nashville for Scott Hannan
Seventh round (2) - San Jose; from Colorado with Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi