Wild West – General Manager Ratings – San Jose Sharks

Grant Campbell


In part eleven of our look at the GMs of the Western Conference, we will look at Doug Wilson in San Jose. Wilson was the Director of Player Development in San Jose for five years before taking over as GM in 2003. 

Category Ratings: 

5: below average

6: average

7: above average

8: top ten

9: Exceptional 

10: Perfect

Overall ratings should be based at seven being average, but the biggest takeaway should be how each GM compares to the others.

Prior Ratings:

Bob Murray – Anaheim: 7.85

John Chayka – Arizona: 6.62

Brad Treliving – Calgary: 7.5

Stan Bowman – Chicago: 7.6

Joe Sakic – Colorado: 7.55

Jim Nill – Dallas: 7.225

Ken Holland – Edmonton: 6.925 (post-2009)

Rob Blake – Los Angeles: 7.025

David Poile – Nashville: 7.55

Doug Armstrong – St. Louis: 8.0

San Jose Sharks

GM – Doug Wilson – hired May 13th, 2003

The first category, winning:

Regular-season record: 710 W 409 L 12 T 71 OTL 64 SOL 0.617 Winning %

Best result and playoffs: The Sharks best regular season was in 2008-09 when they posted 53 wins and had 117 points. In the sixteen seasons under Wilson, the team has had 100 points or more nine times. As for the playoffs they made it to the Finals in 2015-16 only to lose in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. During Wilson's tenure, the Sharks also lost four times in round three of the playoffs in 2003-04, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2018-19. 

Wilson inherited a team that had missed the playoffs in 2002-03 and had an ageing core consisting of Teemu Selanne (32), Vincent Damphousse (34), Owen Nolan (30), Mike Ricci (30), Scott Thornton (31), and Adam Graves (34).

Already on the team or in the system were Patrick Marleau (22), Marco Sturm (23), Scott Hannan (23), Jonathan Cheechoo (22), Brad Stuart (22), Christian Ehrhoff (21), and Ryane Clowe (20). 

Wilson didn't take over a club with tremendous depth or a great pipeline of prospects by any means.

Winning rating: 8.2


Doug Wilson took over completely with the 2003 draft and hit it out of the park in my opinion. He added Milan Michalek at 6th overall, Steve Bernier at 16th overall, Matt Carle in the 2nd round at 47th overall and the biggest prize of the bunch in the 7th round and 205th overall, Joe Pavelski.

The next year the team missed on their first-round pick at 22nd overall with Lukas Kaspar who only ended up playing 16 games in the NHL, but did hit on Torrey Mitchell at 126th overall in the 4th round.

In 2005, the club picked Devin Setoguchi at 8th overall and even though he had a few good seasons in San Jose, the pick might have been a stretch (Anze Kopitar was picked 11th overall). No question getting Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 35th overall in the 2nd round was a very good pick as he has spent all of his 1,035 NHL games as a Shark. They also picked up Alex Stalock with the 112th overall pick in the 4th round. 

In the 2006 draft, there were nine defensemen taken in the 1st round. Only Erik Johnson (776 GP) at 1st overall played more than 70 games in the NHL. The other eight were the Sharks pick at 16th overall in Ty Wishart (26), Mark Mitera (0), David Fischer (0), Bob Sanguinetti (45), Dennis Persson (0), Ivan Vishevskiy (5), Chris Summers (70) and Matt Corrente (34). It was not a great year for defensemen. The Sharks did have a decent pick with Jamie Mcginn at 36th overall in the 2nd round. 

2007 was a mixed bag of results for Wilson and the Sharks but overall a good draft year. They picked Logan Couture at 9th overall but missed with Nick Petrecki (1) at 28th overall. The icing on the cake was getting Nick Bonino at 173rd overall in the 6th round and Justin Braun at 201st overall in the 7th round. 

Without a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2008, the Sharks managed a very successful draft when they picked Tommy Wingels at 177th overall in the 6th round and Jason Demers at 186th overall in the 7th round. What a boon to the roster to get Pavelski, Braun and Demers all in the 7th round in the space of five years.

2009 saw the club without a first-round pick and with only five picks that year, they couldn't pull off their 7th round magic for the 3rd year in a row. Only Philip Varone picked 147th overall in the 5th round saw the NHL with 97 career games.

Charlie Coyle picked 28th overall in the 2010 draft has proven to be a very good pick albeit with never playing a game in San Jose. Freddie Hamilton played 75 games in the NHL after being picked 129th overall in the 5th round. 

Without a 1st round pick in 2011, Wilson had success with Matt Nieto at 47th overall in the 2nd round, Sean Kuraly at 133rd overall in the 5th round and Dylan Demelo at 179th overall in the 6th round. A good draft year.

The 2012 draft was another successful draft for the Sharks with Tomas Hertl picked 17th overall and Chris Tierney picked 55th overall in the 2nd round. Not to mention another 7th round find at 198th overall with Joakim Ryan. 

2013 can't be considered a successful year as the only player to see the NHL so far is Mirco Mueller who was picked 18th overall and is now in New Jersey and seems to have peaked as a replacement-level sixth or seventh defenseman. 

What another find in the late rounds in 2014 as the team picked Kevin Labanc 171st overall in the 6th round. Nikolay Goldobin was picked 27th overall in the 1st round and was an intriguing prospect who was dealt to Vancouver, but it appears his game will probably never translate to the NHL. I'm curious about how he will do in the KHL next season.

2015 was such a deep draft that you could argue that Timo Meier is not that great a pick at 9th overall with players like Mikko Rantanen, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot and Sebastian Aho. I think it is a fine pick and wouldn't make that argument. Jeremy Roy who the Sharks picked 31st overall in the 2nd round has battled injury and his offensive output has not translated to the professional game. Rudolf Balcers who the Sharks picked 142nd overall in the 5th round and then traded to Ottawa as part of the return for Erik Karlsson looks like he has a pretty good shot to stick in the NHL after playing 51 games with Ottawa over two seasons. 

2016 saw the team without a first-round pick once again but of the five picks the Sharks had, three have played in the NHL already. Dylan Gambrell (61) picked 60th overall in the 2nd round, seems to have found a home in the bottom six. Noah Gregor (28) picked 111th overall in the 4th round has impressed, splitting time between the AHL and the NHL in his first professional season. Joachim Blichfeld who was picked 210th overall in the 7th round has a chance to be another Shark who emerges from that round of the draft. He had an excellent rookie pro season and was rewarded with three games with the Sharks. 

The Sharks first-round pick in 2017, Josh Norris who was picked 19th overall was sent to Ottawa, had a great rookie season in the AHL with 61 points in 56 games. The Sharks have an interesting prospect in Mario Ferraro who they picked 49th overall in the 2nd round. He reminds me a little of a left-handed Troy Stecher, but perhaps with more offence down the road. Scott Reedy who was picked 102nd overall in the 4th round more than doubled his goal output from his first two seasons with the University of Minnesota, posting 15 goals this year after back-to-back seasons of seven goals. His ceiling isn't that high, but he has a chance to make it still. Sasha Chmelevski who was picked 185th overall in the 6th round is another potential diamond in the rough for the Sharks. Dobber Prospects has his fantasy upside at 8.0 and his NHL certainty at 8.0. The Sharks 212th pick in the 7th round was Ivan Chekhovich and he posted 105 points in his last season in the QMJHL in 2018-19 but had a disappointing rookie pro season in the AHL with only four goals and 12 points in 42 games. 

In 2018, the Sharks took a chance on Ryan Merkley at 21st overall. He has all the offensive talent in the world, but concerns about his stature, defensive play and attitude continue to dog him. When a player can post 76 points in 60 games in the OHL as a defenseman, it is a risk well worth taking. With the 182nd overall pick in the 6th round, the club took John Leonard who just finished his 3rd season with UMass-Amherst and exploded for 27 goals in 33 games. Leonard signed an entry-level contract with the Sharks and will forego his senior year in college. 

Just another draft year without a first-round pick in 2019 for the Sharks and they made their first selection in the draft at 48th overall in the 2nd round by taking Artemi Knyazev, who is an offensive-minded smaller defenseman. His ceiling is not that high fantasy-wise. The Sharks made an intriguing pick at 184th overall in the 6th round by taking Santeri Hatakka. He is a very good skater but lacks some offensive skills from most reports. He did play 28 games as a 19-year-old in Liiga which is no small feat. He is a longer-term project, but with the Sharks success in late rounds don't be surprised to see him in the NHL one day.

The Shark’s success in the draft and especially in the late rounds is one of the biggest reasons this team has been so good for so long. Kudos to Wilson here.

Drafting score: 8.4


Trades made: 137

Significant trades:

June 22nd, 2003 – sent a 6th round 170th overall pick in 2004 (Ladislav Scurko) for a 7th round 205th overall pick in 2003 (Joe Pavelski). The club had seen something in Pavelski to add a pick to grab him. Great scouting or luck?

June 30th, 2003 – sent a 4th round 127th overall pick in 2004 (Ryan Callahan) for Mark Messier. Only significant in that the Sharks gave up a 4th round pick to gain a day to woo a 42-year old Messier to sign as a free agent. Plus, I forgot this ever happened.

November 16th, 2003 – sent Mikka Kiprusoff for a 2nd round 35th overall pick in 2005 (Marc-Edouard Vlasic). What could have been a horrible trade in giving the Flames one of their best goalies of all time, turned into a wash with the pick being turned into Vlasic.

June 26th, 2004 – sent a 1st round 28th overall pick in 2004 (Mark Fistric), a 2nd round 52nd overall pick in 2004 (Raymond Sawada) and a 3rd round 91st overall pick in 2004 (Alex Edler) for a 1st round 22nd overall pick in 2004 (Lukas Kaspar) and a 5th round 153 overall pick in 2004 (Steven Zalewski). Just another example of a trade to move up six spots not being worth it in the end, unless that pick turns out to be a difference-maker. 

June 26th, 2004 – sent a 2nd round 63rd overall pick in 2004 (David Krejci) for a 3rd round 94th overall pick in 2004 (Thomas Greiss), a 4th round 129th overall pick in 2004 (Jason Churchill) and a 9th round 288th overall pick in 2004 (Brian Mahoney-Wilson). I know it doesn't work like this, but oh what could have been for the Sharks? 

July 30th, 2005 – sent a 1st round 12th overall pick in 2005 (Marc Staal), a 2nd round 49th overall pick in 2005 (Chad Denny) and a 7th round 207th overall pick in 2005 (Myles Stoesz). The Sharks moved up four spots to get Setoguchi, which in the end was not worth the price.

November 30th, 2005 – sent Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm for Joe Thornton. These are the type of deals that even EA's NHL series won't let you complete. Even though Thornton couldn't deliver a Stanley Cup (which ironically was the knock on him in Boston that led them to deal him), he is the face of the Sharks franchise and is a future Hall of Famer. 

June 24th, 2006 – sent a 1st round 20th overall pick in 2006 (David Fischer) and a 2nd round 53rd overall pick in 2006 (Mathieu Carle) for a 1st round 16th overall pick in 2006 (Ty Wishart). Another whiff by Wilson and gang, in moving up in the draft.

June 24th, 2006 – sent a 2nd round 53rd overall pick in 2007 (Will Weber) and a 3rd round 85th overall pick in 2006 (Tom Sestito) and a 4th round 113th overall pick in 2006 (Ben Wright) for a 2nd round 36th overall pick in 2006 (Jamie Mcginn). Moving up to get Mcginn worked out in this case, but still expensive.

October 1st, 2006 – sent Jim Fahey and a 3rd round 83rd overall pick in 2007 (Timo Pielmeier) for Vladimir Malakhov and a 1st round 26th overall pick in 2007 (David Perron). The Devils were hoping to get Alexander Korolyuk's rights but he ended up not returning to the NHL. The Sharks had to send the 3rd round pick in lieu.

February 25th, 2007 – sent Josh Gorges and a 1st round 22nd overall pick in 2007 (Max Pacioretty) for Craig Rivet and a 5th round 146th overall pick in 2008 (Julian Demers). That is not a typo that should be Jason Demers, unfortunately for the Sharks. Rivet was a fine player, but he was 32 years old at the time with only one more year under contract. Gorges played 11 more seasons in the NHL and we know what Pacioretty has and is still doing in the NHL.

February 27th, 2007 – sent Ville Nieminen, Jay Barriball and a 1st round 26th overall pick in 2007 (David Perron) for Bill Guerin. Not happy with spending a lot on Craig Rivet, Wilson went all-in by trading for a 36-year old free agent to be Guerin. It did not work out well, as Guerin had two assists in nine playoff games with the Sharks.

June 22nd, 2007 – sent a 2nd round 41st overall pick in 2007 (Kevin Marshall) and a 2nd round 57th overall pick in 2008 (Eric Mestery) for a 1st round 28th overall pick in 2007 (Nick Petrecki). The pick didn't turn out but I prefer to see this type of moving up in the draft as compared to similar price tags to move up three or four spots.

June 22nd, 2007 – sent Vesa Toskola and Mark Bell for a 1st round 13th overall pick in 2007 (Lars Eller) and a 2nd round 44th overall pick in 2007 (Aaron Palushaj) and a 4th round 98th overall pick in 2009 (Craig Smith). I guess the Maple Leafs thought they were getting their number one goalie for the next five years. They were wrong. Great trade for the Sharks.

June 22nd, 2007 – sent a 1st round 13th overall pick in 2007 (Lars Eller) and a 2nd round 44th overall pick in 2007 (Aaron Palushaj) and a 3rd round 87th overall pick in 2008 (Ian Schultz) for a 1st round 9th overall pick in 2007 (Logan Couture). On Wilson's fourth attempt to pay the price of moving up four spots, he finally hit with picking Couture at 9th overall. 

February 26th, 2008 – sent a 1st round 26th overall pick in 2008 (Tyler Ennis) and Steve Bernier for Brian Campbell and a 7th round 194th overall pick in 2008 (Drew Daniels). Campbell was an impending free agent but did play well in San Jose with 19 points in 20 regular-season games and seven points in 13 playoff games. It's easy to look past Bernier (drafted 16th overall in 2003), but he was only 23 years old and in his 3rd season in the NHL and still had some potential. 

June 21st, 2008 – sent a 4th round 98th overall pick in 2009 (Craig Smith) and a 7th round 207th overall pick in 2008 (Anders Lindback) for a 4th round 106th overall pick in 2008 (Harri Sateri). More irony than significant as the two picks ended up in the NHL that were dealt away.

July 4th, 2008 – sent Matthew Carle, Ty Wishart, a 1st round 26th overall pick in 2009 (Kyle Palmieri) and a 4th round 118th overall pick in 2010 (James Mullin) for Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich. Boyle ended up having six fairly productive seasons in San Jose and posted four seasons above 48 points. He also posted 48 points in 62 playoff games. A good add for Wilson.

August 28th, 2009 – sent Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich for Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi. The Sharks couldn't afford Ehrhoff, so basically gave him away to the Canucks. 

September 12th, 2009 – sent Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a 2nd round 58th overall pick in 2010 (Kent Simpson) for Dany Heatley and a 5th round 136th overall pick in 2010 (Issac Macleod). Heatley was coming off four seasons in a row of 50, 50, 41 and 39 goals, so the Sharks knew what they were getting in him going forward. What they didn't see was the league changing and leaving behind bigger scorers like Heatley who were a step behind the play in a space of two or three seasons. The big piece going the other way was Michalek (6th overall pick in 2003) who at only 24 years old had seasons of 66, 55 and 57 points leading up to being traded. I think you have to credit Wilson for taking a chance with Heatley. 

June 24th, 2011 – sent Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi and a 1st round 28th overall pick in 2011 (Zack Phillips) for Brent Burns and a 2nd round 37th overall pick in 2012 (Pontus Aberg). In trading for Brent Burns, Wilson attempted to hit a home run much like his previous trade to get Thornton. He was looking to add to the core of the Sharks and he succeeded. I'm not sure even Wilson knew how good Burns would be. 

July 3rd, 2011 – sent Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. With the acquisition of Burns the week before, Wilson was looking to change the nucleus of the team and gave away a declining, expensive, problematic player in Heatley for an unhealthy Havlat, who never played more than 48 games in any season in his three years in San Jose. 

March 25th, 2013 – sent Douglas Murray for a 2nd round 58th overall pick in 2013 (Tyler Bertuzzi) and a 2nd round 53rd overall pick in 2014 (Noah Rod). It's hard to argue the return for Murray who at this point was more than likely below replacement value. He played one more season in the NHL after this trade.

June 30th, 2013 – sent a 1st round 20th overall pick in 2013 (Anthony Mantha) and a 2nd round 58th overall pick in 2013 (Tyler Bertuzzi) for a 1st round 18th overall pick in 2013 (Mirco Mueller). To move up two spots in the draft and to pick Mueller is inexcusable. The Red Wings thank Wilson to this day.

June 30th, 2013 – sent a 2nd round 50th overall pick in 2013 (Dillon Heatherington) for Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy was 27 years old two weeks after this trade and was coming off of six-goal season in Pittsburgh. He was also making $2.35 million in salary. Kennedy went on to score eight goals in his 92 games as a Shark over two seasons. When do GMs realize they don't have to pay a 2nd round pick for replacement level players?

June 27th, 2014 – sent a 1st round 20th overall pick in 2014 (Nick Schmaltz) and a 6th round 179th overall pick in 2014 (Ivan Nalimov) for a 1st round 27th overall pick in 2014 (Nikolay Goldobin) and a 3rd round 62nd overall pick in 2014 (Justin Kirkland). Having paid 2nd round picks to move up two to three spots, it is mind-blowing that Wilson only was able to get a 3rd round pick to allow Chicago to move up seven spots. Or maybe that was the proper market value all along?

June 27th, 2015 – sent a 2nd round 39th overall pick in 2015 (AJ Greer) and a 2nd round 40th overall pick in 2016 (Cameron Morrison) and a 6th round 156th overall pick in 2017 (Denis Smirnov) for a 2nd round 31st overall pick in 2015 (Jeremy Roy). To move up eight spots in the 2nd round, it cost the Sharks more than what the Sharks charged the trade above. 

June 30th, 2015 – sent Sean Kuraly and a 1st round 29th overall pick in 2016 (Trent Frederic) for Martin Jones. I didn't realize that Jones was even a Bruin (four days), but this was pretty good value for the Bruins for a backup goalie that the Sharks figured could be a starter in the NHL. The Sharks were right for three seasons at least.

February 22nd, 2016 – sent Raffi Torres, a 2nd round 50th overall pick in 2017 (Maxime Comtois) and a 2nd round 52nd overall pick in 2018 (Sean Durzi) for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling. The Sharks had a deep run this playoff and lost to the Penguins in the Finals, so rental prices must be forgiven. 

June 17th, 2017 – sent Mirco Mueller and a 5th round 143 overall pick in 2017 (Marian Studenic) for a 2nd round 49th overall pick in 2017 (Mario Ferraro) and a 4th round 123rd overall pick in 2017 (Brandon Crawley). Ferraro has already surpassed Mueller in this trade so it has to be a win for the Sharks.

February 26th, 2018 – sent Danny O'Regan, a 1st round 29th overall pick in 2019 (Brayden Tracey) and a 4th round 122nd overall pick in 2019 (Ethan Keppen) for Evander Kane. In what was originally a rental, the trade had conditions that the Sharks would owe Buffalo a 1st round pick if they re-signed Kane and made the playoffs, which they did both of. Not an expensive price for Kane. His contract is another story.

September 13th, 2018 – sent Dylan Demelo, Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Josh Norris, a 1st round 3rd overall pick in 2020, a 2nd round 44th overall pick in 2019 (Jamieson Rees) and a 2nd round pick in 2021 for Erik Karlsson and Francis Perron. The insult to injury on this trade is that the Sharks signed Karlsson at $11.5 million AAV for eight seasons. It is hard to think that this deal will look anything but disastrous in three or four years for the Sharks.

February 25th, 2019 – sent a 2nd round 60th overall pick in 2019 (Albert Johansson) and a 3rd round pick in 2020 for Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist had 11 points in 20 playoff games for the Sharks so the price is almost worth it, but some might argue if you don't win it all, it's never worth it. Wilson had to take the chance.

June 18th, 2019 – sent Justin Braun for a 2nd round 41st overall pick in 2019 (Kaedan Korczak) and a 3rd round pick in 2020. Not being able to afford Braun brought the return price down a little.

February 18th, 2020 – sent Brendan Dillon for a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2021. Prices for rentals were down in 2020.

February 24th, 2020 – sent Barclay Goodrow and a 3rd round pick in 2020 for Anthony Greco and a 1st round pick in 2020 (TB). Good value for Goodrow. It's almost like a mini rebuild.

Overall, Wilson has gone for it like no other GM in recent memory, in trading for big-name players, like Thornton, Heatley, Burns, Kane and Karlsson. As much as I give him a lot of credit, you need to bat more than .500 in those deals and I'm not sure he has. He's given up way to many picks as throw-ins or in trying to move up in the draft, to very little effect. 

Trade score: 6.5


Doug Wilson is a well-established member of the Billion dollar club, with over $1.4 billion in contracts signed. 

Wilson has bought out Paul Martin, Adam Burish and Martin Havlat for just under $11 million in cap hit. This isn't too bad for a GM that has been in the game for over 17 years. 

The club is going to have cap space issues for the next few seasons, as they are saddled with the following contracts for players that will be an issue in a few years if not already:

Logan Couture (31 years old) – signed through 2026-27 at $8 million AAV. Modified No-trade clause.

Evander Kane (28) – signed through 2024-25 at $7 million AAV. M-NTC.

Brent Burns (35) – signed through 2024-25 at $8 million AAV. M-NTC.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic (33) – signed through 2025-26 at $7 million AAV. No movement clause

Martin Jones (30) – signed through 2023-24 at $5.75 million AAV. M-NTC.

Erik Karlsson (30) – signed through 2026-27 at $11.5 million AAV. M-NTC.

Wilson is now strapped to the above six players who all have no-trade or no-movement clauses for $47.25 million AAV until at least 2023-24. 

Signings score: 6.7

Doug Wilson has kept the Sharks competitive for most of his seventeen seasons, but they are at a crossroads right now. They are at the point where they almost need to re-set but with the contracts they have, they are forced to rebuild on the fly, which rarely works. 

Overall score: 7.45

As always, thanks very much for reading and if you have any comments or suggestions please let me know below or follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.


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