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Prospect Spotlight: Maxim Letunov

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

Some players go their entire careers without being traded. Others get traded multiple times before even going pro. This is the case of Sharks prospect and UConn Huskies forward Maxim Letunov.

The Sharks acquired Letunov in a trade on June 20, 2016 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a pair of draft picks. But that wasn't the first time he was traded. Originally drafted by the Blues, he was a key piece traded to Arizona in a trade deadline rental for Zbynek Michalek.

Letunov, who just turned 21 on Monday, is likely one of the prospects in the organization with the highest potential. College Hockey News named him a 2nd team Preseason All-American heading into the year.

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Prospect Spotlight: Mark Shoemaker

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

Listed at 6'3", 187 pounds, North Bay Battalion defenseman Mark Shoemaker has the size to be a physical, shutdown defenseman at any level. And that's certainly more his style than of an offensive defenseman. In 53 games this season, Shoemaker has 10 points, all assists.

Interestingly, 3 of those 10 assists have come shorthanded, and all since Jan 27. While that may be more coincidence than a Brad Marchand-esque ability to pick up shorthanded points, this recent stretch does show that the Battalion coaching staff has been trusting him with plenty of time on the penalty kill.

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Prospect Spotlight: Jake Kupsky

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

It takes time for some NHL prospects to develop. Not everyone breaks right into the NHL. This is especially true in goal. Goaltender Jake Kupsky (@kubby10) is another asset the Sharks hope pays off in the long term.

A sophomore at Union College, Kupsky is currently the back-up to senior goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos. While the elder Sakellaropoulos is entrenched as the starter, an injury allowed Kupsky the chance to start back to back games this past week.

He especially shined in a game against Colgate, putting up 26 saves in a 3-1 win.

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Prospect Spotlight: Jamie Murray

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

Through the first nine weeks of this series, all the highlighted players have been either forwards or defensemen. That changes this week with Allen Americans goaltender Jamie Murray in the spotlight.

A native of Scituate, Massachusetts, Murray put together an absolutely stellar college career at NCAA DIII Babson College. From his sophomore year on, Murray played in 22+ games each season with goals-against-averages between 1.50 and 1.68, and save percentages of .940 or better. His career .940 save percentage ranks second in NCAA DIII history.

"Jamie has left an indelible mark on the Babson hockey record books as one of the most decorated players in our history, and he now has a tremendous opportunity ahead of him,"Babson head coach Jamie Rice said in a statement last year. "The Sharks organization is renowned for their development of players and I know they will help Jamie reach his full potential."

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Prospect Spotlight: Noah Rod

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

With all the exciting young forwards the Sharks have brought into the organization in the past few years, it seems like a few can get lost in the shuffle. Just because forward Noah Rod is playing in Switzerland, doesn't mean he is undeserving of some attention.

Despite being drafted by the Sharks back in 2014, in the second round (53rd overall), Rod is still only 20 years old. Although he hasn't had the showy numbers some of the other Sharks prospects have had, it's important to remember just how early into his development as a hockey player he still is.

Playing in his third season in the Swiss National League A, the 6-foot, 188-pound forward has put up a solid 19 points (8-11=19) in 38 games played for HC Genève-Servette. That shows some improvement from last season's 16 points in 44 games, and is miles ahead of his 18-year-old season of 4 points in 38 games.

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Prospect Spotlight: Jake Jackson

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

A couple weeks ago, the spotlight was on Michigan Tech defenseman Clifford Watson. But Watson isn't the only Michigan Tech player in the Sharks organization. Center Jake Jackson is also a member of the Huskies.

Currently in his sophomore season with Michigan Tech, Jackson has established himself as a regular to the lineup and a solid contributor.

In his 24 games played, he has 5 goals on the season, tied for fifth-most on the team, and has registered a +3 rating.

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Prospect Spotlight: Cavan Fitzgerald

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

It's back to business as usual for Sharks prospect Cavan Fitzgerald. And for Fitzgerald, his business is putting up gaudy offensive numbers.

The 20-year-old is an exciting offensive defenseman and the captain of the Shawnigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. Last weekend against Baie-Comeau, Fitzgerald exploded for a 5-point night - a hat trick and two assists.

But Fitzgerald was quick to credit his team, calling it "a real team victory."

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Prospect Spotlight: Clifford Watson

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

It was a big week for the Sharks prospects. Joachim Blichfeld, Rudolfs Balcers and Karlis Cukste represented their countries in the World Juniors, Manuel Wiederer was traded between junior teams and responded with 5 points in 2 games, and Jake Marchment has been proving to be a valuable piece for the ECHL's Allen Americans.

But it's easy to highlight high-scoring forwards. Steady defenseman don't usually get as much of the spotlight, except this week. Sharks prospect Clifford Watson (@25Cliffy) has continued a strong season at Michigan Tech, and highlighted it with his first goal of the season last Thursday. The goal helped his Huskies advance to the Great Lakes Invitational Championship Game.

The Appleton, WI native is a 6'2", 203 pound defensive defenseman in his senior season at Michigan Tech, and in his second year as the captain of the team.

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Prospect Spotlight: Joachim Blichfeld

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

As the 2017 World Junior Championships continue rolling along, the biggest upset so far may have been Team Denmark taking a 3-2 win against Team Finland. The player who scored the game-winning goal in that game was none other than Sharks prospect Joachim Blichfeld (@joachimblich).

Tweet from @myregularface: here is what stands as the game winning goal for Denmark pic.twitter.com/TB5cQqqSJa

The 18-year-old Danish winger tapped home the pass from Jonas Rondbjerg late in the second period to give Denmark a huge 3-0 lead. After a rally attempt from Finland in the third, Blichfeld's got the credit for the game-winner.

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Prospect Spotlight: Karlis Cukste

by Jonathan Wold / sjsharks.com

Each winter, the world's top hockey talent gathers to play for their country at the IIHF World Junior Championships. The tournament begins December 26th, co-hosted in Toronto and Montreal.

The Sharks will have some major representation at the World Juniors with the Latvian National Team. Along with forward Rudolfs Balcers, Sharks defense prospect Karlis Cukste will represent Latvia at the tournament.

Cukste was drafted by the Sharks in the 4th round (130th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. After playing in the USHL, the defenseman joined Quinnipiac University this season.

"We knew when we got him he'd be a good player for us" Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said in an October interview with the New Hampshire Register. "To his credit, he's adapted quickly. He's not our typical defenseman that we normally take. But it's nice to have that kind of size back there."

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