Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, the San Jose Sharks Draft Boom and their Draft Bust.
San Jose Sharks Draft Boom and Bust
The Sharks’ biggest draft boom is no mystery, as this former seventh-round pick has become one of the best players in franchise history. You don’t often find a player of Joe Pavelski‘s calibre outside of the first round, let alone after pick number 200. After playing two seasons of high school hockey with Wisconsin’s Stevens Point Area High, he elected to join the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks. He had a successful rookie season in 2002-03, collecting 69 points in 60 games.
One season of junior hockey was enough for the Sharks to take a flyer on him, and they selected him in the seventh round with the 205th overall pick in 2003. It’s fair to say that the main reason Pavelski dropped this far in the draft was purely a lack of exposure and experience. Not entering a junior league at a younger age cost him in terms of draft pedigree, though it’s doubtful Pavelski cares about that now.
Pavelski didn’t sign a contract with the Sharks until before the 2006-07 season. After playing two years with Waterloo, he stayed in Wisconsin for another two seasons to play college hockey with the University of Wisconsin. Once he hit NHL ice, though, he made a remarkable impact. He made quick work of his time in the AHL, only playing 16 games with the Worcester Sharks in that 2006-07 season. He tallied an impressive 8 goals and 18 assists, which rightfully earned him a promotion to the big club. Pavelski hasn’t looked back since.
He’s since played over 1,000 games in the NHL between both the Sharks and Dallas Stars. Pavelski’s never been a nominee for any major award, nor has he won the Stanley Cup. However, he was an integral piece of a remarkable era of consistent domination in San Jose. He will inevitably hit 800 points as he currently sits at 792, becoming just the fourth seventh-round pick in NHL history to do so (Doug Gilmour, Henrik Zetterberg, Cliff Ronning).
Other Notable Booms
Christian Ehrhoff (fourth round, 106th overall in 2001): Ehrhoff had quite the lengthy career for a fourth-round pick, playing in almost 800 NHL games and tallying over 300 points. Now retired, he never had quite the same impact on any individual team the way Pavelski did. Additionally, the value that Pavelski brings is even greater compared to Ehrhoff considering he was drafted three rounds later.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (second round, 35th overall in 2005): Vlasic has been a staple on the San Jose defence core for 14 years, as #44 played in his 1,000th game with the team this season. While Vlasic brought more of the longevity factor and defensive prowess than many drafted before him that year, he was never quite the player Pavelski was.
Ryane Clowe (sixth round, 175th overall in 2001): Clowe was an impressive offensive contributor during his time with the Sharks, cracking the 50-point plateau multiple times. That’s certainly a lot to ask for a sixth-round pick. The organization certainly squeezed all the possible value out of him. However, injuries quickly derailed his career after he left San Jose. Quite frankly, he was just never the producer or two-way player that Pavelski was.
If you’ve been a Sharks fan for fewer than 10 years or so, this is probably your first time hearing Ty Wishart‘s name. He was drafted 16th overall by the Sharks in 2006 after a couple of solid years with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. The left-shot defenceman’s hulking size and two-way expertise originally made him an attractive pick. Few faulted the Sharks at the time. He was even the captain of Canada’s squad the U-18 World Junior Championships in his draft year. However, he didn’t tally a point in seven games. Unfortunately, that became a sign of things to come for Wishart.
Originally, it looked like a good pick for the team. Wishart played the following two seasons in the WHL, nearing a point-per-game pace. Wishart joined the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester for a five-game trial run at the end of the 2007-08 season but went pointless. Those were the only five games he played in the Sharks organization. During the 2008 offseason, he was shipped to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a package that saw the Sharks acquire Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich.
Wishart spent two and a half years in the Lightning organization before they had seen enough, and he was again traded, this time to the New York Islanders for goalie Dwayne Roloson. Wishart was never able to recall the offensive side of his two-way game and struggled at higher levels of play. He’s still active, having played exclusively overseas since the 2015-16 season. He currently plays for Eispiraten Crimmitschau in the German DEL2. Players like Claude Giroux, Brad Marchand, and Semyon Varlamov were all still available at 16th overall.
Other Notable Busts
Lukas Kaspar (first round, 22nd overall in 2004): Kaspar carries a very similar story arc to Wishart. His game was never quite able to translate well to the NHL, despite performing very well at lower levels of hockey. Like Wishart, Kaspar is still active overseas despite not having played in North America for ten seasons now. Wishart came with a little more expectation due to his draft position, so he gets the nod over Kaspar. Players such as Pekka Rinne, Mike Green, and David Krejci were all drafted ahead of Kaspar.
Mike Morris (first round, 27th overall in 2002): Morris is unique on this list, as he never actually played an NHL game. However, considering Wishart’s NHL impact is easily forgettable, his draft position still makes him a larger bust than Morris. For Morris, injuries were the issue. He had severe concussion issues near the end of his college career, which limited his play in the AHL. He retired from professional hockey after the 2008-09 season.
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