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Mueller, Doherty Among Sharks Top Prospects

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

If there's one thing San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic proved early in his career it's that there's always a spot reserved in the lineup if you're good enough to play.

That's the message Sharks coach Todd McLellan conveyed during the team's development camp last month. Vlasic was 19 in 2006 when he arrived at Sharks training camp one year after being drafted. He made the team and played 81 games en route to being named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

There are a few young prospects along the Sharks' defense group hoping to follow a similar path this season, including 2013 first-round pick Mirco Mueller.

"It's a younger League now," McLellan said. "There's a lot of young players that are playing and being effective. We have to encourage that, and we are as an organization. But we also want players to be in a situation where they can grow and have some success, so [Mueller] and everybody else that may play here have to be able to maintain a standard of play that allows them to grow throughout the year."

The Sharks moved up two spots to No. 18 in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings at the 2013 NHL Draft to select Mueller. It cost the organization 2013 first- and second-round choices, all the proof needed in determining how much the organization values Mueller.

But he isn't the only defensive prospect sure to open some eyes in training camp in September.

Here's a look at the Sharks' top 10 prospects, according to


1. Mirco Mueller, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 18), 2013 draft

Last season: 60 GP, 5-22-27, Everett, WHL

Mueller (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) patterns his two-way defensive game after two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks. He makes the simple play and spends as little time in the defensive zone as possible.

In two seasons with Everett in the Western Hockey League, Mueller has 11 goals and 58 points in 123 games. The likely scenario is that Mueller sticks with the Sharks for his nine-game trial before playing another season of junior hockey.

But there are spots open along the blue line in San Jose this season after offseason trades of Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart. The 19-year-old Swiss-born defender might be first in line with a strong training camp.

"He's close to making the roster but this is a difficult position to break into," Sharks director of scouting Tim Burke said. "He's a shut-down guy who gets the puck out of your end very quickly and I think there's even more offense to come."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16


2. Taylor Doherty, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 57), 2009 draft

Last season: 69 GP, 4-11-15, Worcester, AHL

Doherty, 23, was re-signed to a one-year contract in July because Sharks general manager Doug Wilson believes the 6-8, 229-pound defender has a very good shot at making the team out of training camp.

Doherty has spent the past three seasons in the American Hockey League and has shown great improvement each season. Doherty could provide the team a physically intimidating presence along the blue line in the tough Western Conference.

"He's a classic example of a bigger guy who took all the right steps in the American league with an eye toward making our team," Burke said. "He's got a long reach and is a very good skater for his size. [Associate coach/director of player development] Larry Robinson really likes this guy and we didn't want to disrupt his development by giving him a cup of coffee last year so we decided to keep in the AHL a little longer. We feel he could be ready to play among our top six this season."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15


3. Nikolay Goldobin, RW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 27), 2014 draft

Last season: 67 GP, 38-56-94, Sarnia, OHL

The 18-year-old Russian-born forward led his team in goals, points and points-per-game (1.40), and was second with 10 power-play goals. Goldobin (6-foot, 185) had at least a point in 22 consecutive games from Nov. 14, 2013 to Jan. 11, 2014; he had 21 goals and 43 points during that stretch. In two seasons with the Sting, Goldobin has 68 goals and 162 points in 135 games.

He needs to continue to work on his two-way game and prove he can be responsible defensively.

"He's got a unique set of offensive abilities since he can score and see plays develop really quickly," Burke said. "He can play a slow or fast game, but like all wingers who are that offensive at that age, he needs work defensively. I don't think he's that far off."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17


4. Gabryel Boudreau, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 49), 2013 draft

Last season: 67 GP, 16-19-35, Baie-Comeau, QMJHL

Boudreau (5-11, 170) eventually could be a top-six offensive option for the Sharks. The 19-year-old has solid puck skills and is good 1-on-1, exhibiting nice puck control and skating. He still is developing and likely will spend at least one more season in junior before turning pro.

He was traded to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in May and will begin 2014-15 with that team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had two goals and seven points in 22 playoffs games for Baie-Comeau last season.

"He's got another year in junior but we like where he's at right now," Burke said. "He's an offensive guy with a little grit [81 penalty minutes last season] and an antagonistic nature to him."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17


5. Chris Tierney, C

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 55), 2012 draft

Last season: 67 GP, 40-49-89, London, OHL

Tierney (6-foot, 181) concluded a sensational fourth season with the London Knights as captain, leading the team with a plus-44 rating in the regular season and 17 points (six goals) in nine OHL playoff games. Tierney, 20, will begin his professional career in Worcester this season.

"We really like Chris a lot," Burke said. "He's versatile and can play anywhere up and down the lineup at center and he does it with offense, defense and penalty killing. He's similar to what Logan [Couture] had in that he'll make your team quicker; there's less risk in these types of players because you know they'll play somewhere for you."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16


6. Freddie Hamilton, C

How acquired: 5th round (No. 129), 2010 draft

Last season: 64 GP, 22-21-43, Worcester, AHL; 11 GP, 0-0-0, San Jose

The older brother of Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Freddie has shown great promise in the AHL the past two seasons, and got into 11 games with the Sharks last season, including time on a line with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl. That experience will serve him well as he competes for a full-time NHL spot in training camp. The 6-1, 195-pound 22-year-old led Worcester in goals, power-play goals and points last season, and was second in shots on goal.

"He was our best player in Worcester and he's a guy who will transition into a good NHL player," Burke said. "In the AHL he plays a bigger role, but in the NHL, at least in the beginning, he needs to understand that it will be a little less of a role. I think he's ready to crack our lineup; we've got a young team and there's an opportunity for him."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15


7. Matt Tennyson, D

How acquired: Signed as a free agent, March 29, 2012

Last season: 54 GP, 7-14-21, Worcester, AHL

The Sharks believe in the 6-2, 205-pound 24-year-old, evidenced by the fact they re-signed him to a two-year contract in July. Tennyson finished last season first in goals, second in points and third in assists among all defensemen in Worcester. He played has previous NHL experience, with two assists and a plus-2 rating in four games for San Jose in 2012-13. Tennyson either will earn a longer stint in the NHL or gain further development in the AHL this season.

"Matt is a young, puck-moving defenseman with the vision to create offense from the back end," Wilson said. "We're excited to watch him progress as we continue the process of committing to the younger players in our organization."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16


8. Konrad Abeltshauser, D

How acquired: 6th round (No. 163), 2010 draft

Last season: 57 GP, 6-15-21, Worcester, AHL

Another big (6-5, 212), strong defenseman in the system, the German-born defender won the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Worcester community in 2013-14. A Memorial Cup winner with the Halifax Mooseheads in 2013, Abeltshauser, who turns 22 on Sept. 2, appeared in over 20 community events throughout central Massachusetts and led by example on the ice all season long. His game is built on size and strength; he's projected to be a solid bottom-four defender in the NHL.

"Konrad will spend another year in the minors as he's still in that developing stage, but he has a long reach and is a good puck mover," Burke said. "You need these types of players in your lineup."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17


9. Dylan Demelo, D

How acquired: 6th round (No. 179), 2011 draft

Last season: 68 GP, 2-22-24, Worcester, AHL

Demelo (6-1, 195) is expected to take his game to another level this season in the AHL. Worcester coach Roy Sommer felt the 21-year-old was one of the team's top defensemen last season since he prides himself on playing a mistake-free game while always looking to help his defense partner. He plays a detailed game and makes good decisions with the puck in his end.

"He's got a good blend to his game," Burke said. "He'll be knocking on the door this year, but I do think more time in the minors will work to his benefit. He's an under-rated prospect in our system but he reminds us a lot of [Buffalo Sabres defenseman] Josh Gorges as a no-nonsense guy with solid skills."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16


10. Julius Bergman, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 46), 2014 draft

Last season: 45 GP, 13-21-34, Frolunda Jr., SWE-JR.

Bergman (6-1, 187) was expected to play for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League this season but instead will spend his first season in North America playing in the OHL with the London Knights. Bergman has been described as a player who sees the ice well, makes good outlet passes and is able to work the transition. He's also an effective penalty-killer.

"We thought he'd go a little earlier in the draft but we felt fortunate to get him where we did," Burke said. "He has pretty good offensive ability and we like his potential."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer

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