June 21, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKSVIDEO
When youre following a team that consistently makes the playoffs, there can be a misconception that the NHL Draft isnt all that important. Its rare that an NHL draft pick can contribute the season after he is drafted especially when chosen late in the first round so fans of the NHLs elite can be forgiven a bit if they dont feel like putting down their margaritas or leaving their poolside lounge chairs to pay attention to the annual event.In the Bay Area, though, the names Ryane Clowe (sixth round, 2001), Joe Pavelski (seventh round, 2003) and Jason Demers (seventh round, 2008) should quickly put that notion to rest.
The Sharks own the 28th overall selection in this years draft, which takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota this Friday and Saturday. Its the same position in which they chose highly touted prospect Charlie Coyle this time last year. A lot can change in the days leading up to and during the event itself in terms of picks and player movement, and Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is already in midseason form when it comes to working the telephones. REWIND: Ratto: Prescription for what ails Sharks
Weve talked to all 29 NHL teams a lot recently not only on the potential moving of picks, but potential moving of players if it can address a need that were looking for, he said in a video posted on the Sharks official website. So, theres a lot going on at this time. As Wilson points out, the draft not only offers clubs a chance to stock their farm system with young talent, but there is also chatter about swapping established NHL players. Wilson might have to pawn a key component or two from the current roster in order to ultimately improve the Sharks for next season. As of Tuesday, the Sharks already had more than 52 million committed to 15 players according to CapGeek.com, and that doesnt include restricted free agents Devin Setoguchi, Benn Ferriero and Andrew Desjardins. The salary cap is expected to rise to around 64 million, but that still leaves the Sharks very little wiggle room if they fail to clear space. Without shedding at least one major salary, San Jose will have a tough time adding that impact defenseman it has been searching for since the retirement of Rob Blake at the end of the 2009-10 season. Among the unrestricted free agents set to hit the open market on July 1 are Joni Pitkanen, Kevin Bieksa and Andrei Markov all of whom would immediately upgrade the Sharks blue line. Sometimes if youre looking to pick up a player, it may involve trading some of the picks that you have in your possession going into the draft, Wilson said. The next couple of weeks will be a busy time. Wilson has already announced that aging veterans Jamal Mayers, Scott Nichol and Niclas Wallin wont be back, and that the team will look to its younger players and prospects to help fill those now-vacant roles. RELATED: Sharks' Nichol, Mayers, Yawney won't return
Wilson is remaining positive and keeping an open mind going into the weekend. I think were in a pretty good place. Weve got a very good team with a lot of very good pieces in place, he said. Were always looking at adding anything to our team that makes us better at a fair cost. In total, San Jose has six picks in the seven-round draft. At the very least, Wilson and his brain trust will attempt to unearth yet another late round surprise.