Led by director Tim Burke, the San Jose Sharks scouting department doesn’t nearly get enough credit. Despite the fact that Sharks draft picks since 2003 have gone onto play more NHL games than all but one other team’s draft choices (factoid courtesy of sjsharks.com), some Sharks fans out there still bemoan the fact that San Jose took Devin Setoguchi ahead of Anze Kopitar in 2005 or that Nick Petrecki has become a “bust”. The point to be had is that first round picks in hockey are not nearly as predictable as say they are in the NFL. For the most part, if an NHL team drafts an established NHL player with three out of every four first round picks, that is doing an excellent job.
When it comes to first round picks over the last 15 years, San Jose has certainly been above average.
The Sharks have made 15 first round selections between 1997-2012 and 10 of those 15 players have either had lengthy NHL careers or in the case of Coyle and Hertl, are blossoming young talents in the NHL.
1997- Patrick Marleau, Scott Hannan
2003-Milan Michalek, Steve Bernier
2006- Ty Wishart
2007-Logan Couture, Nick Petrecki
Furthermore, when it comes to NHL drafting, the ability to predict success falls dramatically after the second round. Generally speaking, the success of draft choices in the third round or later are essentially unpredictable. There really isn’t much difference when it comes to trading away a fourth round pick versus a sixth round pick. Point to be had is that the late rounds in the NHL draft are basically a crapshoot. However, it is a crapshoot in which the Sharks have been relatively successful.
In that same time frame, from 1997-2012, the Sharks have drafted 13 players in the fourth round or later that have or soon will have appeared in over 100 NHL games. Those would be Mark Smith, Rob Davison, Mikael Samuelsson, Niko Dimitrakos, Douglas Murray, Christian Ehrhoff, Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, Torrey Mitchell, Nick Bonino, Justin Braun, Tommy Wingels and Jason Demers.
Ignoring free agents and trades, the Sharks could field a pretty damn phenomenal team (maybe outside of the goaltending position) of solely their draft choices made since 1997.
Patrick Marleau—Logan Couture—Charlie Coyle
Milan Michalek—Tomas Hertl—Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn—Joe Pavelski—Devin Setoguchi
Mikael Samuelsson—Nick Bonino—Tommy Wingels
Matt Nieto—Marcel Goc—Torrey Mitchell
Christian Ehrhoff—Jason Demers
Marc-Edouard Vlasic—Justin Braun
Matt Carle—Brad Stuart
Scott Hannan—Douglas Murray
As always, for more on the Sharks you can follow Andrew on twitter: @ViewFromBensch