Jun 28, 2018

Hey, Barracuda fans, happy summer (officially). As the weather continues to heat up, as too has the offseason. I apologize for not penning a blog last week, I was in Des Moines, Iowa for the AHL Team Business Meetings and I wasn’t able to put anything together before Thursday. Since the last time we talked, the Sharks have been extra busy. Let's start with the pre-draft trades, San Jose sent Barracuda forward Adam Helewka to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for lumbering defenseman Kyle Wood. And then, they shipped forward Mikkel Boedker to Ottawa along with Barracuda defenseman Julius Bergman and a sixth rounder in exchange for forward Mike Hoffman, defensive prospect Cody Donaghey, and the Senators’ 2020 fifth-round draft pick. Doug Wilson would go on to send Hoffman immediately to Florida along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a second, fourth and fifth round draft selection.

It’s no secret the Sharks are making a serious push for free agent John Tavaras, but the trades also gave San Jose more options at last weekends draft and future drafts.

Let’s start with the Wood/Helewka trade. With several young forwards expecting to crack the ‘Cuda lineup in 2018-19, Helewka’s departure will open up another roster spot for one of those young players and gives the Barracuda a natural right-handed shot defenseman on the power play which they didn’t have for a majority of last season since Tim Heed was with the big club. In addition, Wood has incredible physical intangibles. At 6-foot-7, he is automatically the largest player in the organization. A former teammate of Barclay Goodrow with the North Bay Battalion (OHL), Wood ran into a sophomore slump in 2017-18 after earning AHL All-Rookie honors in 2016-17, collecting 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) in 68 games. Last year the 22-year-old fell a bit out of favor with a new coaching staff, and his numbers faltered as a result.

Wood joins a defensive corps that includes Mike Brodzinski, Nick DeSimone, Cody Donaghey, Cavan Fitzgerald, Jacob Middleton, Jeremy Roy, and Radim Simek. Because the Sharks did not qualify Dylan DeMelo, there is a chance that either Middleton or Simek will make the big club next season. That is of course if DeMelo decides to sign somewhere else as an unrestricted free agent. Over the last three drafts, San Jose has only selected three defensemen, so Wood, at the very least, adds organization depth at the position and in my opinion has a chance to play in the NHL one day if he can return to his rookie form we saw in 2016-17. During my first two seasons in the AHL, I’ve been able to see him in action as a member of the Tucson Roadrunners, and I’m excited to see where he can take his game in San Jose.

Now onto the second trade(s). The Sharks added valuable draft capital and cleared cap space when they sent Boedker, Bergman and a pick to Ottawa. Bergman made substantial offensive strides in 2017-18, scoring 10 goals and adding 10 assists with the ‘Cuda. Both himself and Mirco Mueller, as a pair, were major reasons why the Barracuda reached the Western Conference Finals in 2016-17. Bergman never appeared in any NHL games over his three years and fell behind other players including Joakim Ryan and Tim Heed on the Sharks organizational depth chart.

Now onto the draft…

2018 NHL Draft Selections
D - Ryan Merkley | Round 1, 21st Overall (Guelph – OHL)
C - Linus Karlsson | Round 3, 87th Overall (Karlskrona Jr. – Sweden Jr.)
C - Jasper Weatherby | Round 4, 102nd Overall (Wenatchee – BCHL)
G - Zachary Emond | Round 6, 176th Overall (Rouyn-Noranda – QMJHL)
LW - John Leonard | Round 6 182nd Overall (Massachusetts-Lowell – H-East)

We’ll begin with the top pick, from what I've been told, Merkley is a game breaker, a blue-chip type player that fits the modern game as an offensive puck-moving defender. With a birth year of 2000, Merkley won’t be 18 until mid-August. For development sake, Merkley will probably return back to his junior team Guelph for another year or two before turning pro.

Weatherby, whom grew up a Sharks fan, is committed to North Dakota so we probably won’t see him for at least two more years. John Leonard just finished his freshman year at UMass playing alongside Sharks 2017 second-round pick Mario Ferraro. Most likely Leonard will also stay in school for a couple more years. Karlsson played 13 games in the Swedish Elite League last season and will likely return for another year before coming overseas. 

All five-draft selections will be at the Sharks Development Camp next week, competing against Sharks prospects and invitees. 

NHL free agency kicks off on July 1, which also marks the new calendar hockey season. Keep it tuned to all Sharks and ‘Cuda social channels and websites for full coverage of Development Camp that runs from July 3-6. 

Last year, the Barracuda signed Alex True out of Development Camp. The former Seattle Thunderbird’ would go on to score 15 goals in his rookie campaign.

Most likely the Barracuda will again add a player or two from camp for next years team so you'll want to keep an eye out for any movement.

That's it from me. I'm off to San Diego for the weekend, but I'll be back by Monday for the start of camp. Enjoy your weekend, and I'll talk to you all next Thursday.

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