I wrote one of these before the season started and thought with most of the regular season play done or nearly done in the lower ranks of hockey that I would tackle it again before the NHL playoffs are in full swing. I will preface by saying I’m not a scout so my rankings won’t match other lists, however, those lists, hours of watching games and highlights were all considered. My criteria for a prospect are any player with less than 75 NHL games as of March 28, 2016. Also, I tried to balance ceiling with the odds of the player being a regular NHL-er even if their ceiling is not met. That all being said here are my top 20 Sharks prospects.
Previous Rankings on RSEN
Mike Robinson – Goalie (3rd round 86th overall, 2015)
This is one of a couple of 2015 picks for the Sharks that didn’t really impress me and this issue was never with Robinson himself rather the pick he was taken with and some of the quality netminders that were in my opinion passed over. Callum Booth, for example, was taken with the 93rd pick. Personal gripes with the pick aside he did perform alright in the USPHL Premier league with a 2.74 GAA and a .910 SV%. The real test for him will be when he will play for the University of New Hampshire in the Hockey East Division of the NCAA.
Adam Parsells – Defenseman (6th round 160th overall, 2015)
I like the idea of Adam Parsells, a massive defenseman standing 6’6” and nearly 200 lbs. Unfortunately many teams prospect pool graveyards are filled with guys this size because so few of them can skate at the NHL level. Skating is definitely an area of concern for Parsells who will have to make the extra effort to get it to the level that is required. In 47 games for the USHL’s Chicago Steel Parsells scored 3 goals and added 9 assists taking 10 penalty minutes, he was also a +8. He will be joining the University of Wisconsin next season.
Alexis Vanier – Defenseman (4th round 102nd overall, 2015)
After Vanier was drafted in 2014 injuries and a lack of production really hurt Vanier’s chance of getting an entry level contract from the Sharks. His game has often been compared to that of former Sharks Douglas Murray for all the wrong reasons. However since joining the Charlottetown Islanders he has seen a resurgence scoring 8 goals and adding 13 assists. His strong play for the Islanders so far in the QMJHL playoffs could see him earn that entry level contract after all. However at this point, I’m not comfortable for that to happen to play him in my top 20.
Top Sharks Prospects #20-16
#20) Joakim Ryan – Defenseman (7th round 198th overall, 2012)
Previous Rank: NR
Ryan is a smaller defenseman with some pretty good hockey sense. Playing for the San Jose Barracuda he has scored 2 goals and added 20 assists for 22 points but has an even +/-. My concern with Ryan is that although he could be a decent bottom to a mid pair two-way defenseman in the NHL his small stature works against him standing only 5’11” and 190 lbs. making it difficult for him to win battles in the corner and in front of the net. Still with the right partner, he has enough offensive instincts to play at the NHL level.
#19) Alex Schoenborn – Right Wing (3rd round 72nd overall, 2014)
Previous Rank: NR
Although Alex Schoenborn has had somewhat of a breakout season with the Portland Winterhawks scoring 27 goals and 30 assists I don’t think that his offensive tools will transfer well to the pro game. What will transfer however is his hard-nosed physical style and a tireless work ethic. He is said to model his game after Scott Hartnell and while he does not have Hartnell’s offensive upside he does have the tools to be a top nine contributor at the NHL level.
#18) Nikita Jevpalovs – Right/Left Wing (Free Agent Signing 2015)
Previous Rank: 9
After being signed as a UFA with a 100 point season under his belt in the QMJHL I made a classic mistake in my previous ranking, and that is overvaluing a point explosion of an over-ager playing junior hockey. I’m not saying this pick is a bust though just not worth of the nine I previously gave him. He has been somewhat of a disappointment for the Barracuda scoring only 4 goals and 8 assists with a -15 rating which also included a short stint on the ECHL Allen Americans. That all being said he has a decent hockey IQ and can be a really shifty skater and if he can adapt his game to the pro level he may still have an NHL future ahead of him.
#17) Cavan Fitzgerald – Defense (Free Agent Signing 2015)
Previous Rank: NR
Cavan Fitzgerald is another two-way defensive prospect who the sharks signed as a UFA when he went undrafted has really found his game since being traded to the Shawinigan Cataractes during the Halifax Mooseheads fire sale. His 15 goals and 30 assists left him tied for tenth in scoring among QMJHL defenseman. While I don’t believe his ceiling is exceptionally high I think he could be a very serviceable bottom pair defenseman in the NHL who could play a variety of roles.
#16 Julius Bergman – Defense (2nd Round 46th overall, 2014)
Previous Rank: 8
I personally did not see as much as Bergman as I would have liked to this year. Many people have said that his game continues to improve including some very trusted sources. Occasionally getting lost in his own zone he still counted on to play in all situations and does a good job of not allowing attacking players to get a position close to the goal. However after putting up some decent numbers in his one year stint with the OHL’s London Knights he has only found the back of the net twice and has added another seven assists. It is expected though that he should see more ice time on the Barracuda power play next season but many doubt that he will find the ceiling that many had hoped for when he was drafted in the 2nd round in 2014.