I wrote one of these before the season started and 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 75 NHL games played 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
Top Sharks Prospects #7-1
#7) Dan O’Regan – (5th round 138th overall, 2012)
Previous Rank: 12
Dan O’Regan is an interesting prospect to me because he played a lot with 2015 second overall pick, Jack Eichel so you wanted to be skeptical of the numbers a player puts up while playing with a guy that talented. While O’Regan didn’t match last year’s numbers as he was shy 6 goals shy finishing with 17 goals and 24 assists. Now that he is finished college I look forward to seeing what he does at the next level since has signed an entry level contract very soon. I’d like to see if he and Nieto can find some of the magic they had together in college.
#6) Rourke Chartier (5th round 149th overall, 2014)
Previous Rank: 7
Rourke Chartier is a guy that I am very high on although even I have to acknowledge it’s been a disappointing season for him. Like many of his fellow Kelowna Rockets Chartier was bitten by the injury bug this year and playing without Leon Draisaitl or in a limited capacity with Nick Merkley. Still in 42 games he still managed 25 goals and 21 assists. Chartier has great hands, above average hockey IQ and skates very well. The other thing that still keeps me high on Chartier as a prospect was this year he finally made Canada’s WJC team after being the final cut last year and was deployed in all situations after starting out with a fourth line role. Chartier also seems to excel on the penalty kill. If Chartier can stay healthy he should be a prospect that many should still be excited about.
#5) Mirco Mueller – (1st round 18th overall, 2013)
Previous Rank: 3
I don’t know if there is a prospect who has divided Sharks fans as much as Mirco Mueller, many have already written off the 21-year-old defenseman. I personally have tried to temper my expectation of what he might become. Mueller is a guy in my opinion that has all the tools to be top four defensemen in the NHL the problem is I’m starting to wonder if he has the hockey IQ to put it all together at the NHL level. This obviously was not helped by the Sharks bringing him into the NHL too early hoping he’d survive a Vlasic like trial by fire. This year playing for the San Jose Barracuda he has scored 1 goal and 9 assists and has a +5. Personally, I’m not ready to write Mueller off just yet as defenseman can be notorious late bloomers but he will need to start showing some signs of putting together his game soon or he may end up in a decent sized list of highly drafted defenseman in the prospect graveyard.
#4) Dylan DeMelo – (6th round 179th overall, 2011)
Previous Rank: 10
Dylan DeMelo has had quite the breakout season for the San Jose Sharks, with the sixth spot thought to be all but locked down by either Matt Tennyson or even Mirco Mueller. However, it would be DeMelo who shocked many Sharks fans as he not only ran way with the job but played a big part in calming down the game of defence partner Branden Dillon who got off to a rough start in the year. In his 44 games in San Jose, he only scored 2 goals and 2 assists but his play in his own end has me believing that this is a player who could have legitimate middle pairing upside. Dylan DeMelo makes the case that you never want to give up on a defensive prospect too early.
#3) Nikolay Goldobin – (1st round, 27th overall, 2015)
Previous Rank: 5
Nickolay Goldobin is the tale of two players, on one side he has all the tools to be a world-class offensive weapon in the NHL, on the other side he has been somewhat of a defensive disaster. Goldobin is slowly improving his defensive game but at times still looks lost without the puck and has had his work ethic called into question by San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer who has benched his star player many times early on this season. In limited time on the Sharks this season I didn’t think Goldobin looked out of place with Thornton when the Sharks were pushing the play but again disappointed on the defensive side of the puck. Goldobin has scored 18 goals and 19 assists for the San Jose Barracuda and in nine games of NHL play has one goal and one assist. Goldobin should be a mainstay on the Sharks roster within the next two years.
#2) Joonas Donskoi – (UFA, 2015)
Previous Rank: 6
Joonas Donskoi like Goodrow barely makes the list because of NHL games played but has been nothing less than spectacular for the San Jose Sharks. While his hands and skating are impressive attributes, it’s his work ethic that never ceases to amaze me. Regardless of the score Donskoi does not give up on a play. If the team looks flat Donskoi still looks engaged. His hard work has allowed him to score 11 goals and 24 assists in his rookie season in the NHL and he looks like he could play anywhere in the bottom nine with some top line upside in the right circumstances. This just might have been one of Doug Wilson’s best moves in quite some time. It is important to point out that almost 300 games in the Finnish Liiga gave him a leg up on other prospects in the system.
#1) Timo Meier – (1st round 9th overall, 2015)
Previous Rank: 2
Timo Meier is a prospect that I am excited about for a lot of reasons. First is obviously his offensive skill set is very good and in my opinion, has a more complete game than Goldobin whose offensive skill set is also very high. Statistically, he had a great season playing for the Halifax Mooseheads and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scoring 34 goals and adding 53 assists. However, something we did learn in his start with the Mooseheads is that Meier is similar to Patrick Marleau not in skill set but in the sense that he struggles under the weight of being the focal point of his team. If Meier is allowed to be a secondary piece in San Jose I think he will do very well but if he has to be “The Guy” then I fear for his development into the top player I think he can be. Something else I really like about Meier is the physicality he brings to his game. He’s not afraid to stick up for himself or his teammates which are something that is seriously lacking in the Sharks upper echelon of players currently.