Friday, October 25, 2013

One To Watch: San Jose Sharks

Hockey's Future currently ranks San Jose in the bottom third for prospect depth but I have a feeling the Sharks are laughing about that these days. Tomas Hertl leads the NHL in rookie scoring right now and Matt Nieto is also having a productive first year in the NHL. 

The HF write up is right though when the subject of depth comes up; there isn't much in the Sharks' system. Freddie Hamilton, Sean Kuraly and Rylan Schwartz lead the short list of notables. And then there's the players they took in the 1st round this past June. 

2012 Choice: Sean Kuraly - The freshman had a decent year at Miami although his 12 points was dwarfed by fellow rookie Riley Barber's 39. Already this year Kuraly has 6 points although the RedHawks are only 4 games into the campaign. The former Indiana Ice forward was a dangerous offensive weapon in this final year in that league. 

My selection as One To Watch for San Jose this year comes after the jump. 

Mirco Mueller (D)
Everett Silvertips
6'4, 200 lbs
Drafted 18th overall 2013

Photo: Jon Howe
I learned a few weeks before the draft that the Sharks were very high on the Swiss import. In my mock draft I pegged San Jose to come away from the 2013 event with Mueller and for once, I got one right. The Sharks traded up to the 18th spot with Detroit in order to secure Mueller after seeing the Ottawa Senators snap up another intended draft target, Curtis Lazar.  
The Silvertips came through Edmonton a few weeks ago providing me with the first opportunity I've had to watch Mueller in person. I can't say that he wowed me that night; in fact I'd go so far as to say it was a pretty bland performance from Mueller.

I was hoping to see some of what Mueller showed in the highlight video the WHL put out last spring but it didn't happen during the game against the Oil Kings.

That video showed a lot for San Jose fans to be excited about including an offensive instinct I didn't know was there when I looked at his stats line. 31 points is OK, don't get me wrong, but he looks like he's capable of more than that to me. 

Photo: Jon Howe
The Silvertips have a new coach in Kevin Constantine, well known in hockey circles for being rather defence orientated. I'm curious to see how Mueller adapts and if any potential offensive growth he has might be snuffed out under Constantine's system. 

I think he may have already been knocked down the pecking order a bit as Matt Pufhal leads the team in scoring by a defenceman with 13 points. So far Mueller has managed just 4 points in 11 games, a drop off in his scoring pace from last year despite the team's improved goals-per-game rate. 

I'm always curious to see how a European performs in the WHL in his second season. For Mueller, expectations are high because of where he was taken in the draft. Can he live up to them while playing under Constantine? 

That's why I have Mirco Mueller as the One To Watch for San Jose in 2013-14.

Up Next: Montreal Canadiens  

No comments: