For just the second time in the organization’s 16-year history, the San Jose Sharks do not have a first round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. However, based on San Jose’s established track record of drafting in later rounds, a first round pick in 2007 may not be critical to the team’s overall success.
Currently, 16 of the 24 players on the Sharks roster were drafted by San Jose. Of those 16 players, 11 were drafted in the second round or later including goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (ninth round, 219th overall of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft).
Earlier this year, San Jose owned two, first round picks: their own as well as New Jersey’s (acquired before the 2006-07 season in the Vladimir Malakhov for Jim Fahey deal). As the trade deadline approached, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson wisely used his first round picks to first acquire veteran defenseman Craig Rivet from Montreal in exchange for San Jose’s pick (22nd overall), then All-Star right wing Bill Guerin from St. Louis for New Jersey’s pick (via San Jose, 26th overall).
By using draft picks as the principal in each of the deals that brought Rivet and Guerin to San Jose, Wilson was able to preserve the core of the team, while adding veteran leadership to his young squad.
As it stands now, the Sharks first selection in the 2007 draft will be Carolina’s second round pick (acquired prior to the 2006-07 season via Pittsburgh in the Nils Ekman and Patrick Ehelechner deal). If recent history holds to be true, Sharks fans may see that pick on the ice sooner rather than later.
With their second round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the Sharks drafted right wing Jonathan Cheechoo (29th overall). Four seasons later, Cheechoo made his debut with the Sharks and has been a regular in San Jose’s lineup ever since. The native of Moose Factory, Ontario has tallied 130 goals, including his League-leading 56 goal campaign in 2005-06, in just 305 career games.
Director of Scouting Tim Burke and his staff also made a splash in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, selecting defenseman Matt Carle (47th overall, pictured above at right). Carle spent three seasons at the University of Denver, leading the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA Division I National Championships his first two seasons, then claiming the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in his junior season, given annually to collegiate hockey’s best player. Choosing to forgo his senior season, Carle signed with the Sharks and joined the team for their 2005-06 stretch run.
As a rookie in 2006-07, Carle set single-season franchise records for most power play goals by a rookie and most power play goals by a defenseman (eight), most goals by a rookie defenseman (11) and most points by a rookie defenseman (42). In 89 career games, Carle has posted 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) and a plus-7 player rating.
Most recently, the Sharks found success in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, selecting defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
(35th overall). The Sharks acquired the second round pick in the 2005 Draft on Nov. 16, 2003 from Calgary in exchange for then third-string goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. That season, Kiprusoff led the Flames past the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals for a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
However, Vlasic’s emergence as a top young defender just one season after being drafted eliminated the feelings of a one-sided trade. As a 19-year-old rookie, Vlasic appeared 81 regular season games, posting 26 points (three goals, 23 assists) and led the League among rookie defenders with a plus-13 player rating.
To see who the Sharks will select in the second round this year, Crash The Net at sjsharks.com. The 2007 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held in Columbus, Ohio, will be split across two days with the first round scheduled for Friday, June 22 beginning at 4 p.m. (Pacific). The second through seventh rounds are scheduled for Saturday, June 23 beginning at 7 a.m. (Pacific).