San Jose Sharks’ Biggest Needs and Highest Prospects

The Strauss-Man could end up being a steal for the Sharks, who have many needs heading into the NHL draft. (Photo by Lintao Zhang / Getty Images)

The Sharks of San Jose are located in an uncomfortable middle area. It’s too good to secure an instant difference-maker in the draft, nor is it good enough to challenge it in a playoff. With a new general manager joining the fold this off-season, who to hire may determine what the sharks’ next five years look like. They will either start selling off their veterans and dig deeper into rebuilding or hope their younger players will thrive and be able to fill out the roster via free agency. Their set of expectations has been improved from recent seasons but it doesn’t have the depth of other teams that don’t play in the playoffs.

Top odds

William Ecklund, LW: The seventh overall pick from 2021 saw a major offensive dip this year in the SHL, but he was playing for a very weak Djurgardens side that ended up being relegated. After Eklund started the season in the NHL, making the Sharks out of training camp, he returned to Europe. Management may wish they had held onto their potential North American debut after the season they endured. Eklund is likely to play in the NHL next season and could have a break season like potential Swedish teammate Lucas Raymond played as a rookie in Detroit, however, Eklund may also need stints in the AHL to ensure important minutes are played. Eklund remains one of the best prospects outside the NHL.

Thomas Bordello, C: If Eklund is not in the NHL, it could be because Bordeleau took his place. After plowing his career with the University of Michigan, which listed a professional-caliber Advance Corps this year, Bordello was an excellent split timer between the NHL and the AHL. In two AHL games, Bordeleau has earned three points and added five assists in eight NHL games. All of his professional points were assists, which shows his formidable playmaking skills, not his lack of goal-scoring ability. Bordeleau can make adjustments in the offensive zone to open passing lanes. Seems like a real threat to break the list of sharks now.

Straussmann, J.: The only reason Mann wasn’t playing for the NHL this past season is because of his six-foot frame. It’s the same six-foot tire that hasn’t allowed virtually any pucks through in the past three seasons. With the University of Michigan, MAN has scored 1.85 and 1.89 GAAs, and .939 and .930 save percentages in the last two seasons. Turning professional, Mann jumped to one of the best leagues in the world, Sweden’s SHL, posting a 2.19 GAA and 0.914 savings percentage, raising those numbers in a post-season. Dealing with his solid performances in both the Olympics and the World Championships for Team USA, it’s nearly impossible for an NHL team to take that long to jump on the Mans. A powerful addition to the free agent.

one to watch

At 6-foot-5 and scoring 1.63 match speed points, it was hard to miss Brandon Koo This season at OHL. The North Bay battalion star finished his season among the OHL captains with 101 points. Having played 17 games in the AHL with San Jose Barracuda last season, Coe’s confidence has been evident this year, and when he returns to the AHL as a 20-year-old next season, he will look totally at home. By the end of the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Coe get a test in the NHL. The 2020 fourth-round pick is booming and becoming a strong possibility and could end up overtaking his starting position. Gannon Laroque looks like another pick later, ranked 103 in 2021, that could provide value. He had a solid WHL season and played a few games in the AHL when he was 18 years old.

ready to intervene

The skill was not in doubt with Ryan Merkley. He has above average vision and a soft hand. Merkey’s intangibles and his ability to defend have been a concern over the years. However, the 2018 first-round pick looks set to make its move, and San Jose can handle the risk-reward factor in Merkley’s game while figuring out the rest. He got an extended look at the NHL this season as he played 39 games. Except for this campaign hack year, it will also add good value to blueline when its entry level contract expires. Max Verono, the 26-year-old who scored 60 points in 51 SHL games last season, will also be looking to step in and make an immediate impact. He played 16 games for the Ottawa Senators before spending two seasons in Sweden, but a move abroad appears to have been an excellent choice from a developmental point of view.

Requirements in the draft

While Adin Hill and Kaapo Kähkönen, both 25, are set to compete in the net for San Jose Sharks in the short term, a long-term heir to the wrinkle is needed. The sharks’ biggest prospect in the nets before this season was Sarnia Sting goalkeeper Benjamin Goudreau, who has struggled badly in the OHL regular season. While he bounced back in the playoffs for Sting, his OHL stack so far has come in with 3.93 GAA and 890 savings percentages. Signing Mann appears to be the answer, but it’s not proven in the NHL, and it never compromises security. Regardless of their network, the sharks’ entire depth chart is very shallow. In the first three to four rounds, the choice of the best available should be the San Jose Road followed by a goalkeeper catch in the subsequent rounds.

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