Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – San Jose Sharks
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Incoming – Trevor Carrick, Jonny Brodzinski, Dalton Prout, Tony Sund
Impact of changes – For the second consecutive summer the Sharks lost key players and did not replace them. It’s a strategy that I love and wholeheartedly endorse, but it only works if you have a nice, reliable conveyor belt of prospects coming in, with the young players moving up the ladder. The team is fortunate to have the next wave of young players already surging towards the next level of production with Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc.
As for prospects on the “conveyor belt”, this could go one of two ways. San Jose is actually fairly deep with prospects, especially compared to previous seasons. There have been times when this team has had one player in my Top 150 fantasy prospect forwards. Today there are seven in the top 155. But the problem is, many of them could use another year and in most cases two. So the team will probably fill the lower lines with depth players such as Brodzinski, Lukas Radil, and Barclay Goodrow. And then the prospects with skill will get cups of coffee at different points in the season. The other way it could go would be for the team to rush a prospect or two early, similar to the way Labanc. The team is big on partial seasons – Labanc’s first season was 55 games, Hertl 37 and Meier played 34 – and last year Lukas Radil played 34, an obvious sign that more of a full season is the next step. It goes back even further, too (Couture played 25). So you may see one of the prospects outlined below getting two or three dozen games in.
Ready for full-time – The leading scorer in Finland’s Liiga in 2017-18, Antti Suomela had a modest North American pro debut season. He initially made the Sharks but was eventually sent down. He had eight points in 27 NHL games (there’s that partial season thing again) and 20 in 47 AHL games. The 25-year-old has a shot at the third-line wing spot.
Dylan Gambrell picked up 45 points in 51 games for the Barracuda in his first pro season. He can play either wing or center which increases his chances of making the club in a depth role to start. But he just recently turned 23 and by no means is do-or-die to make it this year.
Jonny Brodzinski has been a part-time NHLer for two seasons now. At 26 we’ve probably seen everything from him that we’re going to, but the Sharks will use him as a roster filler between the call-ups of the younger forwards. He has been a productive AHL player but is in that NHL-AHL limbo where he is too good for one league and not good enough for his particular role in the other league.
San Jose’s second-round draft pick in 2017 (49th overall), Mario Ferraro, is a solid two-way defenseman with untapped offensive potential. He turned pro after his junior year with Massachusetts and will probably begin the season with the Barracuda. But he is the type of all-around player who is probably going to be first in line to be called up and see plenty of big-league action.
The Sharks have done really well in scouring the European leagues for undrafted or drafted-but-never-signed treasures. Marcus Sorensen, Joonas Donskoi, Melker Karlsson and Lukas Radil come to mind as recent examples, but Suomela, Alexander True and Tony Sund are the latest projects. True actually played Canadian junior hockey, leaving Denmark at age 17 to chase his NHL dream. He went undrafted, but that didn’t send him back to Europe pouting. In his second season with the Barracudas he led the team with 55 points in 68 games and has started to bulk up his lanky 6-5 frame. Sund is a 24-year-old defenseman who led his Liiga team in scoring among rearguards and was the PP quarterback with 35 points in 60 games.
Sasha Chmelevski is the next big offensive guy for the Sharks at forward. But he will need a full year in the AHL to get used to the pro game and how well he adapts will determine how quickly he makes the jump. Because of the team’s tendency to give long looks to young players, he’s the best candidate to maybe see 20 or 30 games in the second half. Read up on Chmelevski here.
San Jose Sharks prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Surprisingly (to me), the Sharks finished third in goals scored last season. I have that slipping to 13th with a 36-goal decrease in the year ahead. That’s on the backs of Pavelski and Donskoi leaving. But a healthy Erik Karlsson and another step from Labanc and Meier would easily change all that. Prospect depth has improved. In Karlsson and Brent Burns, the Sharks have the two best defensemen in fantasy hockey. The forwards are a solid group with upside but not elite superstars. And they have room to add new players to supplement the top six. The goaltending is on the weak side of the ledger. The prospect pipeline is average, but much better than it has been historically.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was C+)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades