The San Jose Sharks recently made their selections in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. While fans were expecting another high-risk, high-reward draft like they have been accustomed to over the past few years, quite the opposite happened. The team, in their first draft with Mike Grier as general manager, selected big, physical players with the majority of their picks. With the team heading in a different direction, many questions about what the team was doing began.
Following the draft, I took to Twitter to gather reactions from Sharks fans. Some individuals thought the draft was a success, but the majority believed the team would suffer from many missed opportunities. As a result, I garnered some questions from fans willing to share their thoughts with me and discussed them with former THW Sharks contributors Josh Frojelin, Lizz Child, and Victor Nuno. Here’s what they think regarding the Shark’s 2022 Draft choices.
Should the Sharks Have Selected Brad Lambert?
“Is not taking Lambert because of ‘perceived questionable attitude’ after taking Ryan Merkley ‘who had the same concerns’ an indictment on Ryan Merkley’s standing with the team? From the outside, it looks like Merkley’s pick was a success. Why not take Lambert in the same situation?”
Child: “Of all very public personality issues in the NHL, talking about Ryan Merkley and Brad Lambert having ‘perceived questionable attitude’ issues seems somewhat silly. However, it is a genuine concern when there is notable talk about personality issues. It’s important to consider that there may be some underlying reasons or whatever else. Possibly, the Sharks didn’t want to take on someone who could be difficult to work with because they are still looking for a coach and they weren’t sure how Lambert would mesh with whoever they bring in. Before the draft, Joe Will and Jonathan Becher spoke about how a personality fit was an important quality when the team was doing interviews with prospects so maybe it’s just a risk the team didn’t want to take.”
Nuno: “It seems pretty obvious to me that Grier has a very different vision for what he wants in a prospect pool. He wants guys who compete hard. Perhaps even those who have an edge, even if they aren’t the biggest guys. I imagine he likes Adam Raska quite a lot. Lambert doesn’t have that so I’m not surprised in the slightest that they passed on him.”
Regardless of how fans feel about passing on Lambert, it is clear that Grier has a very different opinion on what matters in his prospect pool. He wants players who compete hard, and the “perceived attitude issues” against Lambert absolutely was a part of the Sharks’ adversion to selecting him. They want dedication without question, and whether he could bring that to the team is unknown.
If Lambert proves to be a high-end player who has no attitude issues, the Sharks may end up kicking themselves for passing up on him. However, Grier was not ready to take the chance of selecting a player with attitude issues with his first-ever draft pick as general manager. Was this the right choice? Who knows. Only time will tell us that.
Was Trading Down for Filip Bystedt the Right Choice?
“Fans keep saying they made ‘safe’ choices and should’ve stayed at 11. Pronman and Burnside said Sharks swang for upside and that Bystedt has top 20 pick-huge upside. Which is it?”
“Seems to me that instead of high-end skill, they went for size and grit (except for Havelid). Did they leave too much skill on the board? Was this drafting for a need that they could acquire in free agency as bottom six gritty forwards and bottom pairing D?”
Child: “Honestly? I don’t see an issue with making the ‘safe’ choice in this draft, though I’m not sure that’s what the Sharks did here. Bystedt may have a huge upside, but there’s also a chance he never reaches his full potential and show it off at the NHL level.
This is one of those moments when I think we just need to trust the plan, whatever it is at this point. It seems like the organization wanted guys who they can build into Sharks the fans will love rather than pure future stars. I was expecting the Sharks to grab Lambert when he was still available at 27, but dropped all expectations for the rest of the draft when Bystedt was announced. I don’t even know if I’m actually answering the question here, but I think the team is looking to utilize the pieces they already have for the most part. Free agency might see a lot less movement than fans are hoping for.
As far as saying the Sharks should have stayed at 11, while I didn’t love moving down in the moment, they traded for three picks inside the first two rounds. How can you be mad about that in a draft like this? Maybe I’m biased, but I think the Sharks really wanted Kevin Korchinski at 11 so when he went to the Chicago Blackhawks at 7, I think they made a smart move. Bystedt’s upside is there. After talking to people who have watched much more of him than I have, I’m not disappointed by this pick.”
Nuno: “If you look at analytical models, getting 3 picks between 27 and 45 adds up to more value than #11. What puzzles me is that the Sharks were staring at Frank Nazar at 11 who has the highest offensive ceiling of any player in the 2022 NHL draft. Sure, he might need a bit of work, but that seems like something they will regret. The three players they got with picks 27, 34, and 45 are all guys who have upside, but need work. In that sense, you could say it was safe, but I would argue that they can be more valuable than one great player with the proper development.
“The Sharks have shown to be able to develop players quite well. On the other hand, Grier is completely changing the organization so their track record of developing players is reset. Of course, Bryan Marchment also died who was a key part of player development so it remains to be seen if they can take the raw Filip Bystedt, Cameron Lund, and Mattias Havelid and turn them into strong NHL players. If it were me, I would have raced to the podium to select Nazar. I don’t think they played it safe, but rather selected raw talent that they think they can mold into the type of players they want to ice.”
It would appear that the Chicago Blackhawks trading for the seventh-overall pick may have thrown a wrench in the Sharks’ plans. Korchinski was a steal of a pick, and he was high on my target list for the team. With him off the board, I assumed Nazar or Denton Mateychuk would be their next choice, but they opted to trade down and select Bystedt.
Related: Sharks’ Three Potential First-Round Draft Selections
While I wish the Sharks would have selected someone at pick 11, I understand what enticed them to take Bystedt. His numbers this past year were similar to what top-prospect William Eklund put up in the season before his draft year. I believe he can prove he was worth the pick, even if his development takes a bit longer than someone they could have picked earlier.
Where does Mason Beaupit Fit?
“Where does Beaupit fit in amongst the goalie prospects?”
Child: “Mason Beaupit is instantly at the top of the depth chart for goalie prospects, especially with the Sharks letting Zach Sawchenko go. I’ve seen a small group of people say he’s slow or that he seems kind of lazy, but I don’t see that in his game at all. He’s a relaxed netminder, for sure, but that’s a good thing.
To be completely fair to Magnus Chrona and Strauss Mann, I haven’t watched enough of them to give a fair opinion on either of them. I have a lot of belief in Zachary Émond, however, I don’t think the Sharks share my thoughts. With Dany Sabourin’s departure from the organization, I don’t think we see much from him moving forward. I could be wrong, but that’s the feeling I’ve gotten. I do think that Beaupit has more potential and a more reliable future than Ben Gaudreau, and I don’t mean that against Gaudreau.
Beaupit just has something about how he plays and how he approaches games. In conversations, Beaupit has mentioned that he likes to be the sixth man on the ice for his team and play the puck. That might scare some people, but having a goaltender who can successfully contribute to plays is so valuable.”
Nuno: “Easily at the top for me. It’s hard to compare Beaupit to Gaudreau since Ben missed his entire draft season of development and only competed at the U18 WJC. Beaupit is 3 inches taller and his body of work this season compares favorably to Gaudreau’s D+1 season. I think he has the highest upside of the group, but Strauss Mann could be a 1B much sooner. I think Gaudreau slipped a bit this season, Magnus Chrona looked amazing winning the NCAA championship so in terms of upside, I’d go Beaupit, Chrona, Mann, Gaudreau.”
I was initially critical of the selection of Beaupit mainly due to his numbers. His stats have never popped off the page. However, after talking to other Sharks’ writers a bit more, this pick has begun to grow on me.
While I think there is a chance Chrona and Mann will find their way to the NHL faster than Beaupit, he has a much better opportunity to take the starting goaltender position than the others. However, since Brent Burns was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Sharks have Eetu Makiniemi to look to take the crease as well. Realistically, the starting goaltender position is wide open for someone to snag.
Related: Strauss Mann Could Fix Sharks’ Goaltending Crisis
Thank you to the two writers who were willing to share their draft thoughts and answer some questions. Even though they are no longer with THW, check out Child and Nuno’s Twitter accounts to stay up to date with their latest work. Be on the lookout for more draft-related news alongside free agency coverage during this busy offseason for the Sharks.