Almost all the chatter surrounding the San Jose Sharks lately has been about Joe Thornton and, to a lesser extent, Patrick Marleau. The former has expressed through his brother-agent that he *really* doesn't want to leave the Sharks, while Marleau doesn't believe that he'll be traded.
Unless you're a fly on the wall of Doug Wilson's office, it's hard to know for sure what he's got planned for his two star players. Let's leave the Thornton/Marleau freakout talk behind for a few minutes and examine a few youngsters that San Jose should be looking at as the draft approaches this weekend.
(Offseason? What offseason? I know, right?)
Barring a trade up, down or out, the Sharks will select 20th in the first round on Friday. A brief look at a few players they could add...
Josh Ho-Sang and the Sharks had similar years in 2013-14. Both struggled to live up to expectations and both had various forgettable moments. Like San Jose though, Ho-Sang holds a lot of promise and a boatload of skill.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/p3VrzVxSBC0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Where the Thornhill, Ontario native will eventually be drafted is anyone's guess. He's been "mock drafted" as high as No. 9 and as late as the front-half of the second round. That's a lot of room for variance—that early guesstimate should tell you just how highly some scouts think of Ho-Sang and his electric offensive skills though.
While he was originally viewed as one of the draft's potential problem childs, Ho-Sang has shown a commitment to improving all season long and has done just that. He finished with 85 points in 67 games for the Windsor Spitfires and could fit in well on a San Jose team that is trying to change the makeup of the locker room on the fly.
Ho-Sang is described as a natural goal scorer that has slick hands and a great shot. Sounds like a good bargain at pick 20, despite his alleged baggage.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hOMpJCuAxOk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
If the Sharks manage to get their hands on this late riser there will be a lot of excitement throughout the organization. That's a guarantee. David Pastrnak has spent the last two seasons developing in Sweden's top league as a teenager, and he outpaced Peter Forsberg in terms of average points scored at the same age in the same league.
That's some stellar company.
The biggest difference between Pastrnak and Forsberg is size. The former stands at 5'9" and weighs in around 150 pounds. That'll scare some teams off, but we're not talking about a small forward that actually plays small.
Pastrnak treats the puck like it's his, and he hounds the carrier on the defensive side of things. He's not excellent in his own zone, but he skates hard and isn't afraid to go to high-traffic areas to score.
He's a "boom or bust" pick in that he doesn't really project as a bottom-six guy, but the Sharks could do much worse with the 20th-overall selection.
Once viewed as one of the top-10 players available in the 2014 draft, Jakub Vrana was surpassed by a handful of his peers as the year wore on. While players like Pastrnak and Nikolaj Ehlers saw their stocks skyrocket, Vrana struggled to find consistency with the Linkopings HC.
He only posted three points through 24 contests, and his projected draft position sunk with each passing month.
That could be good news for San Jose. We've seen this situation before with strong players like Brandon Saad. There's a lot to like from a skills perspective, but Vrana just didn't blow scouts away like he needed to if he wanted to remain a top-10 pick.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vZzjpZlAEnk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
He could still go higher than 20, but the Sharks might like him because of his ability to find loose pucks in close. Vrana is also a superb passer that knows how to find open teammates in the offensive zone.
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GTp1_WE-u1Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
If the Sharks want to add the most dangerous offensive weapon available despite size issues and potential defensive shortcomings, Nikolay Goldobin could be their guy.
Projected to maybe (just maybe) sneak into the first round, San Jose would be accused of reaching a bit to snag the Russian sniper. Watch one or two minutes of his highlight reels though, and you'll understand why Goldobin could be an outright steal with the 20th selection.
He filled in the stat sheet for the Sarnia Sting this season and at one point was riding a massive 22-game scoring streak. Goldobin compiled a remarkable 21 goals and 43 points during that time span and finished the season as the Sting's leading scorer by a wide margin.
There's a lot of bang for the buck here. Late in the first round, it's tough to find players that can finish like Goldobin. He's sometimes liable in the defensive zone, but that's a common knock against forwards in any draft class.
As you can see, there are a number of exciting forwards that might be available when the Sharks take to the stage on Friday to announce the newest member of the organization.
That said, this isn't supposed to be an end-all-be-all compilation. Who do you like out of this draft class? We all have prospect crushes (I think). Who's yours? Which forward would you like to see suit up for the Sharks in the future.
Sound off in the comments. Let's get some ideas out there.