The San Jose Sharks enjoyed a feeding frenzy to kick off a rookie faceoff, but things went south yesterday afternoon with the Los Angeles Kings.
On Friday, the Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 with a highlight-reel William Eklund OT goal. San Jose followed the next night, beating the Colorado Avalanche 5–1.
Monday afternoon, however, was a relief for the Sharks, as the Kings defeated them 3-0 in the final of the tournament.
No fear though – overall, it was a successful rookie faceoff for the San Jose Sharks’ prospects. Many scouts commented on the Shark’s rising tide of young talent compared to tourneys of the past.
Here are my thoughts on San Jose Barracuda head coach John McCarthy, assistant coach Kyle Hegel, and NHL scouts William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Tristan Robbins, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Ethan Cardwell, Michelle Russell, and more.
Let’s go ahead first, then I’ll add some notes about defenders and goalscorers later.
First things first. While the San Jose Sharks may have brought more talent to the rookie tournament than ever before, I spoke to several NHL sources who witnessed the incident, which saw no one clearly drawn among the NHL-flock. Yes, that means William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Ryan Merkle, Sentry Hatakka, you name it. Anyway, it’s a bad sign if you’re counting on the odds of an upcoming rookie tournament on your NHL roster going downhill—but that’s how sharks who lack skill count.
That doesn’t mean an Eklund didn’t improve over the summer—he did, he reportedly looked stronger after gaining seven pounds of muscle, without losing any of his skating or aggressive chops—but I’d love to pencil him in. I would caution against the opening night line-up yet to come. I know, I’ve done it myself.
For what it’s worth though, it was Eklund himself who had a slow start in last year’s rookie faceoff in Arizona before gaining momentum in the preseason to earn himself a roster spot with the San Jose Sharks. . So I’m not going to pencil in any chances yet or write anyone off the NHL roster spot.
It’s all here that Eklund is, a fine example of his increased strength and still-present elusive and hockey IQ.
Eklund (72) rocked 6-foot-3 Drew Helsen (43), lured Olen Zellweger (51), and took advantage of a 2-on-1 defense to find open man Scott Ready (54). With more time and space, Ready easily enables Santeri Hatakka (61) to move down the slot for a golden opportunity.
It was interesting to see the Sharks use Eklund in the higher slot on the Power Play. On PP it’s a more physical position, you take a lot of punishment, and it’s an area you’re forced to shoot too, which speaks to the areas they want the little winger to improve on. Are.
“It was all good,” Eklund said, laughing about the increased traffic at Tech CU Arena over the weekend.
“I thought his shot looked better when he came back this year,” McCarthy said. “And I know we worked a lot on it over the summer. So they definitely got the message there and worked on it. I thought their release was quick and it got a little bit more velocity on the puck as well.”
Last year, Eklund was notably used with the wall on the power play, a tribute to his ability to play, but also a mark that the Sharks were trying to protect the 19-year-old rookie.
Speaking of the power play, I thought it was interesting that the Sharks rarely used a drop pass on their PP breakout during the rookie faceoff. I’m not sure if this is happening out of attack from Brian Wiseman and Scott Gordon, or just a coincidence.
Hegel cautioned against reading too much into the Sharks’ rookie faceoff strategy: “We gave these guys a small, small piece of structure to help them, when they’re there, they got something to rely on. But this one. Our overarching message at the end of the week was the mindset over the system. And the mindset just needs to be competitive.”
An NHL scout called Bourdeleu a top five player in the tournament, but this was a somewhat faint praise.
Another topic of discussion this past weekend was that this rookie faceoff didn’t have as much high-level, NHL-ready talent as it had in previous engagements. Last year, for example, NHL’ers Trevor Zegrass, Jamie Drysdale, Alex Newhook, Bowen Byram, Arthur Kaliyev and Sean Durzy participated. Scouts aren’t sure if this year’s rookie faceoff will graduate as many immediate NHL regulars.
McCarthy noted on Bordeleu: “Specifically” [with] The way the sharks want to play is playing from the inside out, get into the net, get into those high traffic areas. I think he’s great at setting people up and working on the perimeter, and I think if we can get him inside the dots and pretend there, I think that would make him more You will get success. And we have spoken to him about that as well.”
Living with a 2020 second rounder, the same issue with puck management that I saw in their NHL Cup of Coffee was evident during this rookie tournament as well.
One scout reminded me though: “They’ll be in the AHL, get snatched up, the coach will chirp at him, then he won’t do it again. It has to be learned that by experience, one doesn’t want to train a player’s creativity, they have to learn that.” Give some time to what works and what doesn’t.”
I think this scout is right in both cases: on the one hand, you want Bordeau to be Bordeau, but learning on the fly in the best league in the world may not be appropriate.
Speaking of another short centerman, Tristan Robbins shone in this tournament, showing some motor, speed, and skill. I question how a 5-foot-10 center would cope defensively at high levels, but I was reminded by a scout that Robins is both quick and strong enough to be subject to big players. It’s hard to gauge against relatively low-level rookie faceoff competition, but we’ll see how it works out for the 2020 second-round pick in the AHL this year.
It’s also worth noting how the Sharks heavily used Robins on the faceoff circle and PK in this tournament. Those are clearly important skills for Robbins to add to his portfolio. I find it interesting to note that Robbins won only 49 percent of his draw with the Saskatoon Blades last year, indicating that the field is a real work in progress.
Speaking of another 2020 pick, I wonder if first-rounder Ozzy Wisblatt has plateaued? This fits with what I’ve heard from the Prince Albert organization, where there was some frustration that Wisblatt didn’t step up his game with the Raiders last year. Wiesblatt showed the same pace and edge here that made him an attractive pick for the Sharks two years ago, but we’ll see how much better he gets with Cuda.
In the end, 2020 fourth-rounder Brandon Coe got off to a slow start for me, problems with pace and not playing fast enough in the opening game, but I liked his effort against the Avalanche. A scout agreed, noting that Coe appeared to be a supplement player rather than a play driver. He’s a big guy with some speed and skill, but it can take some time to put him together on a professional level.
“I think he has to work a little bit to establish that base in his game. We talked to him about braking in good snow instead of swinging. He’s so fast, he wants to keep his pace. But I think if he can brake in those areas sometime, I think he’ll be in a better place to pretend. But he is moving on,” McCarthy said of Coe. “He is well on his way to a long career.”
In addition to Eklund, the one 2021 San Jose Sharks draft pick who shone here was fourth-rounder Ethan Cardwell. Cardwell showed goal-scoring momentum on several occasions, though he failed to finish. Of greater concern, and why I think it might be advisable for a 20-year-old to return to his older season with the Barry Colts, was he there looking a little lighter, out of body. It was a bit easy. Not from a lack of effort, mind you, but he could use another year to prepare his body for pro hockey?
Here Cardwell (56) is battling for position against 6-foot-6 22-year-old Andre Lee.
I liked this PK effort by Michel Russell (64) in the loss of the Kings, to lure Francesco Pinelli (38), then to sidestep him, then to rip the puck to kill more time.
Russell seems to be an interesting prospect, should not have high ceilings but play in the NHL.
McCarthy had a good word about Josh Lawrence’s performance against the AVS, and the head coach made good of it by raising Lawrence to the second line in the finale.
“I was using him on faceoff. He’s not a big player, but plays from the inside, plays the right way, works over the puck. I was impressed by what he did,” McCarthy said.
But to be honest, in a game where it was difficult for the Sharks to take offense, I saw nothing more than a QMJHL star against the Kings.
However, after the defeat Hegel said of Lawrence: “He skates very well. I like his behavior around the room, just about his business. As a centerman, I think he Responsible enough, not to be deceived. He’s certainly an interesting prospect.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if Sharks or Barracuda gave Lawrence an extension of the contract.
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