SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has signed Defenseman Ryan Merkley (@ryan_merkley) to a standard, entry-level contract.
"Ryan was one of the most talented players at his position in this year's draft and we were very excited to add him to our organization," said Wilson. "We were impressed with the way he handled himself as the youngest player at our summer development camp and feel that he has a whole new level he has yet to tap into. Ryan has the potential to be a difference maker at the NHL level and we are looking forward to watching his development this season."
The 17-year-old defenseman recorded 67 points (13 goals, 54 assists), 63 penalty minutes and 144 shots on goal in 63 games with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2017-18. He led all Guelph blueliners and ranked third amongst all OHL rearguards in points, and among defensemen, led his team in goals and ranked second in shots on goal. In six playoff games, he led all team blueliners in points (one goal, five assists) and led the team in penalty minutes (10) and shots on goal (25).
The rearguard has registered 122 points (25 goals, 97 assists), 299 shots on goal and 113 penalty minutes in 125 games with Guelph. In his OHL rookie season (2016-17), Merkley earned the Emms Family Award as OHL Rookie of the Year and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team after leading all first-year players in assists (43) and points (55) in 62 games.
Internationally, Merkley represented Team Canada at the U-18 World Jr. Championship, leading team defensemen in points (3) and assists (3) in five games played. He was also a member of Team Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, posting six assists in five games.
The five-foot-eleven, 170-pound native of Oakville, Ontario, was named Greater Toronto Hockey League Player of the Year in 2015-16 after recording seven goals and 37 assists in 33 games as the captain of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens Minor Midget AAA team. Consequently, he was the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.
Merkley was selected by San Jose in the 2018 NHL Draft (1st round, 21st overall).