The San Jose Sharks scouting staff, led by Director of Scouting Tim Burke, recently convened in San Jose for their annual mid-term meetings. In the past, the group has met in Boston or Toronto, places closer to the location of many of the scouts and in the region where many may be watching a plethora of junior or college games.
This year, San Jose was the ideal location, based on the fact that the Sharks were at home for the midway marker and flying down to Anaheim for a quick contest the following day. Thus, people who work for the Sharks and live and die with their nightly outcomes, get a rare chance to see the results of their dedication.
Seeing the Sharks play is definitely an added bonus, but the biggest agenda item is getting everyone together for face-to-face meetings to back up all the hard work. Burke regularly sees different members of his staff, but as everyone is based in different areas of North America, emails and phone calls must suffice for most of the NHL season.
“They get to see two games in a few days,” said Burke. “We met before games. It was fun for them to see each other and the players.”
It is not unusual for the longest relationship the player has with anyone in the organization to be with the scout who first noticed him as a teenager.
Burke and his crew are taking all their information acquired during the first half of the season and looking at whether they are on track or where they need to refocus.
“We go over the reports and make preliminary decisions,” said Burke.
No matter where the rink is, Sharks scouts will type in their thoughts during intermissions and postgame in an effort to include every possible bit of information.
“It’s got to be written down,” said Burke.
Now the Sharks will move efforts to the players who have risen up their charts this year.
“We’re looking at a number of players and we have to get it down to the ones we’re focused on during the second half,” said Burke. “We break it down by position and by arena. Then we try to put it all together.”
The Sharks scouting staff can’t always dictate the schedule of the players they are after, so timing is everything.
“There are a lot of leagues,” said Burke. “You have to get to the teams that might not make the playoffs. College kids play mostly on the weekends.”
Part of the success found by Burke and his crew is their ability to change direction if they don’t like what they’re seeing.
“Sometimes we might be going to the wrong place,” said Burke. “Maybe we need to go somewhere else. If you’re mid-term list is out of whack, you still have a chance to recover.”
When it’s all said and done, Burke’s crew will be ready with a comprehensive list that will continue the successful drafting legacy they had the past decade. Currently 17 of the 24 Sharks players, including those on the injured reserve list, are homegrown.
Last year’s first rounders are already showing that the NHL is clearly in their future. Logan Couture
is one of the top point producers in the OHL and Nick Petrecki
is playing a large defensive role for Top-10 ranked Boston College.
San Jose looks to have found success in 2007’s third round as well as Timo Pielmeier recently brought Germany back into the main pool for the World Jr. Tournament and was recently named the QMJHL Rookie of the Week, while Tyson Sexsmith
leads the WHL in wins and shutouts.
2006 first rounder Ty Wishart currently ranks second among all WHL defensemen in points scored.
The 2005 Entry Draft has already shown its rewards with the two-year production of Marc Edouard Vlasic (a second rounder) and the glimpses of skill from Devin Setoguchi earlier this year. 2004’s Entry Draft was very well represented Sunday night in Anaheim as Torrey Mitchell
had a shorthanded goal and Thomas Greiss
was on his way to his first NHL win until a fluky bounce pushed the game to overtime.
Then there is the 2003 draft which currently makes up 20 percent of the Sharks playing roster every night. Milan Michalek, Steve Bernier, Matt Carle and Joe Pavelski
were all part of a deep Sharks find. It was the talent coming from those four skaters that played a significant role in San Jose shipping three NHLers to Boston for Joe Thornton
Whether it’s deciding that a Milan Michalek is the right choice at sixth overall or whether there is something in a Joe Pavelski
that makes it worth tabbing him in the seventh round, Burke and the Sharks scouting staff will continue keeping the Sharks at the top of the NHL standings.
The Sharks will visit Phoenix Tuesday night and the 6:30 p.m. start will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.