Wednesday, June 22, 2011

San Jose Sharks: Their 5 Biggest Needs in the 2011 NHL Draft

If you ran into an average sports fan on the street and asked them when the 2011 NHL Draft was, odds are they could not tell you. I even had to look it up just to make sure.

My sources tell me it is this Friday, June 24, and runs through the 25th. But you cannot always trust what Wikipedia puts out.

Either way, the Sharks must make major waves in this draft if they desire to stay among the upper-echelon of teams in the NHL.

They own the 28th overall pick in the draft this year.

Every year, the NHL Draft provides us with a small number of highly-touted prospects, any of which could become elite players in the NHL. The problem for the marketing side of the NHL Draft is that that number of significant players is tiny at best. The majority of the draft will all have their shot one day at playing in the NHL.

For the Sharks, they have several needs that must be filled.

In the 2010 NHL Draft, San Jose selected Charlie Coyle with the 28th overall pick. Currently, Coyle is already the Sharks' top forward prospect, but still years away from the NHL.

In the 2007 NHL Draft, the Sharks selected Logan Couture with the 9th overall pick. So there are possibilities here.

Here are some needs that must be addressed by the Sharks on June 24.


This one may seem obvious, but the Sharks need to select an elite blueliner in this draft.

Yes, the defense happened to be the low point for the Sharks in 2010-11, and despite GM Doug Wilson's heroic attempts with players like Ian White in 2011 and Niclas Wallin in 2010, there still seems to be a hole at defensemen.

Add that on to the fact that Wallin has left the team this offseason and White is still unsigned, and the Sharks need to to add on to their defensive prospects for the future.

While the top defenseman in the this draft is Adam Larsson, look for San Jose to possibly target someone like a Joseph Morrow or Jonas Brodin at No. 29.

Top-Tier Scorer

The Sharks are stacked with forwards at the NHL level. You cannot go wrong with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley on the ice, unless it is playoff time (low blow).

Still, with Heatley not performing to what everyone expected out of him, the Sharks could use a elusive scorer.

Whether they can find that at No. 28 in the draft is another story.

Look for the Sharks to target point-producers Alexander Khokhlachev or Ty Rattie if they choose to fill this need.

Shut Down Defenseman

This may be piggy-backing with what the first need was about, but the Sharks should find a way to land a defenseman that has the tools needed to play shut down defense on the ice.

San Jose lacked in this very department when they were not able to stop Vancouver's relentless offense in the 2011 Western Conference Finals.

If there is such a thing as a shut down defenseman nearing the end of the first round, it would be Jonas Brodin.

Is Antti Niemi going to last forever in San Jose?

More importantly, is Alex Stalock or Thomas Greiss going to be the next man in net for the Sharks?

I can guarantee that the Sharks will not be taking a goaltender with their first-round pick, but a look into the future shows that they need someone to backup their netminder prospects in these next couple years if things do not pan out.

Look for the best American goaltender in this draft, John Gibson, to be available at No. 28.

Physical Player

The Sharks own two of the bigger players in the NHL in Joe Thornton and Douglas Murray, but maybe San Jose should look to get bigger in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Again, physicality was a weakness of the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals, and although San Jose's front office is not saying it, they may be thinking it.

Who knows how these players will turn out, but if the Sharks do draft for physical presence, then they will not be drafting Ty Rattie.

Despite fantastic skills, Rattie stands only 5'11" and weighs 163 lbs.

The bigger-bodied choice, if there is one in this draft, would be someone like Tyler Biggs, who stands at 6'2" and can play the right wing.

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