Over the past few years, the Sharks European scouts have been on something of a hot streak. The Sharks organization has been able to sign young free agents from overseas who have immediately made an impact. Last year brought Marcus Sorenesen & Tim Heed. Joonas Donskoi came the year prior, and Melker Karlsson signed back in 2014.
On Tuesday, the Sharks announced the signings of two more European prospects, Radim Simek and Filip Sandberg, hoping to make an impact sooner rather than later.
San Jose added another puck-moving offensive defenseman in Radim Simek. The 24-year-old Czech has been a consistent goal scorer, putting up 10, 9, and 11 goals the past three seasons for HC Bílí Tygři Liberec of the Czech Extraliga.
"In any case, when you watch him you see a smart, smooth skating defenseman with an active stick on both ends of the ice. Simek loves to play a strong physical game and beating him along the boards on the rush has been quite hard for his opposition in the Czech league." - Josh Khalfin, BlueSeatBlogs
If Tim Heed were to make the Sharks next season, Simek may not be a bad choice to replace him as the quarterback of the Barracuda's powerplay. Penciling him in as the next Heed may be premature - being the AHL's best defenseman is a tall task - but to sign another player who could potentially fill his role has to be seen as a win for the oranganization.
Forward Filip Sandberg, meanwhile, comes from the Swedish Hockey League's HV71, where he put up 25 points in 52 games this past season. While it's easy to point out the solid offensive numbers, that's not all he brings.
"Undersized player with very impressive vision. Sandberg reads the game really well and is a skilled playmaker with good creativity. Good two-way game. Skates hard and well. Excellen team player. Fierce competitor and likes to agitate." - Elite Prospects
The 22-year-old forward's impact in the NHL may come more on the defensive side. For the past few seasons, Sandberg has been used as a shutdown center, being called the "defensive specialist" on the team by Hockey's Future.
Perhaps Sandberg's best comparable in the Sharks' history isn't in the mold of a Melker Karlsson, but potentially Scott Nichol. A grinding 5'9" center who can win important faceoffs, kill penalties and chip in a little offense here and there could be quite valuable for the Sharks organization down the road.
There's obviously no guarantee about how these two new prospects develop and transition to the North American game. But with the organization's recent track record, would you bet against them?