The NHL Draft Lottery took place on May 10, resulting in the San Jose Sharks locking in the 11th overall pick. Getting a high selection would have been the best-case scenario for the franchise. Still, in typical Sharks fashion, the only pick of theirs to move up in the lottery was the 2019 first-round pick that the Senators acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade. Nevertheless, selecting at 11th overall gives the team plenty of flexibility to determine what type of player they will choose.
Considering the depth of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Sharks should be able to select an excellent player with little to no worry about their future. However, the most amazing prospects will be selected well before they are on the clock. That being said, as with any draft year, there will be plenty of players taken outside of the top ten that still manage to become impact players in the future. With the possibilities limitless for the Sharks, who will the team select when the draft begins on July 7?
Cutter Gauthier spent this past season with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). Over a combined 76 games this season, he managed to put up 93 points. However, what stands out even more than his totals is that 53 of those points were goals. Not only does Gauthier like to shoot, but he is very good at it.
Gauthier’s 6-foot-3 height makes him an excellent defensive mind as well. He throws the body around like no other, which makes stripping the puck off of him no easy task. While offense is not an especially weak point for the Sharks, defense absolutely is. Having more forwards who can handle themselves at both ends of the ice is a massive upside, especially with the defensive struggles being as bad as they are.
Gauthier’s projected draft position has him falling somewhere between 12th and 20th overall, which would place him right in the line of sight for the Sharks. Assuming a high-end player does not fall to 11th, he would be a relatively safe pick for the team to make. Besides, if he is selected earlier, fellow NTDP player Frank Nazar could also fall around that position too.
For more information on Gauthier, check out his THW Prospect Profile.
While getting another forward would help the Sharks immensely, their biggest struggle in recent years has been defense. They have a few defensive prospects in the pipeline, but they lack a true future number-one defenseman. Luckily for San Jose, quite a few defensemen will be going in the first round of the draft, and one of them fits the offensive-minded role the Sharks absolutely love. That player is Denton Mateychuk.
Mateychuk is an explosive defenseman. He likes to play in all corners of the ice, and he works hard to create chances for the players around him. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in his speed. By all accounts, Mateychuk likes to create offensive chances while still being able to get between his opponents and the puck. He has some work to do on his defensive game, but that will come with time and training. He put up 64 points in 65 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season.
Offensive defensemen are the Sharks’ favorite type of player. Brent Burns and Karlsson make up the current offensive firepower on the team’s blue line; however, they are beginning to age out. It is only a matter of time before the Sharks lose all offensive production on the back end. Having a prospect like Mateychuk in the system could help keep the points coming from defensemen as the team ages out. It will not be long before he will be ready to test out the NHL ice, and the Sharks could be the beneficiary of his skill set when he does.
For more information on Mateychuk, check out his THW Prospect Profile.
Sometimes, taking a leap of faith in the draft proves to be the best choice management can make. Moritz Seider was taken much earlier than he was projected to, yet it seems like the Detroit Red Wings found a slam dunk of a defenseman. Looking at various mock drafts throughout the year, one defenseman has consistently improved his draft stock. If the Sharks want to find their version of an off-the-board gem, they should take a shot at Kevin Korchinski.
There is a lot to like about Korchinski’s game. His 65-point season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL has drawn a lot of attention. He sits at 6-foot-2, which allows him to be a physical presence with a scoring touch. In addition to his point totals, he managed to have a plus/minus rating of plus-36, which is fantastic for a defenseman praised for his offensive production. He still has some work to do on his defensive game, but he looks like a player who will make everyone who passed on him regret it.
For the Sharks specifically, everything Korchinski brings to the table is extremely attractive. San Jose has been in desperate need of a defenseman who can put up points but still hold his own in the defensive end of the ice. Typically, the Sharks would sacrifice defensive skill for offensive production and vice versa, but Korchinski could be a perfect balance of both. He is projected to go later than 11th overall, but if the Sharks wanted to take a chance on him, there is a good chance they would not regret it.
For more information on Korchinski, check out his THW Prospect Profile.
The Sharks have a lot of options in the upcoming 2022 NHL Entry Draft. With a search for a new general manager still underway, there is no telling what the new management group will try to do at the draft. However, if the Sharks play their cards right, they will undoubtedly be able to find a great player to add to their future core. Let’s just hope they do not repeat the mistakes of old and trade them away soon after.