2021 TSP: San Jose Sharks Prospects

William Eklund 2021 San Jose Sharks Prospects
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Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 San Jose Sharks prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

NHL free agent frenzy

2021 San Jose Sharks Prospects

Sharks Off-Season

The Sharks had a second straight disappointing season and it’s clear that this team is in need of a rebuild.  With so many long-term, big-money contracts on the books, it may be tough though.  The Sharks started by improving their goaltending though. Martin Jones is out and Adin Hill, who had a promising season in Arizona is in.  The team also added veterans like Nick Bonino, Andrew Cogliano, James Reimer, and Nick Merkley are in. These are all short-term deals. If the Sharks disappoint again, they may be moved at the trade deadline to give the team more prospects and picks.

The Sharks, who are in the early stages of the rebuild, really need to replenish the prospect cupboards after years of being one of the top teams in the league, drafting late, and trading picks and prospects for immediate help. They are now at the other end of that cycle.

2021 Draft Picks: William EklundBenjamin Gaudreau, Gannon Laroque, Ethan Cardwell, Artem Guryev, Max McCue, Liam Gilmartin, Theo Jacobsson, Evgenii Kashnikov
Graduations: Rudolfs Balcers, Noah Gregor, Nikolai Knyzhov,

 

Top 2021 San Jose Sharks Prospect: William Eklund

The Sharks drafted Eklund with the 7th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Eklund. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#2 Prospect: Thomas Bordeleau

Centre — shoots Left
Born January 3rd, 2002 — Houston, Texas
Height 5’10” — Weight 179 lbs [178 cm/81 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 2nd Round, #38 Overall, in the 2020 NHL Draft

Bordeleau had an outstanding freshman season with the University of Michigan. He put up eight goals and 22 assists for 30 points in 24 games. He was named the Big Ten Rookie of the Year, as well as being on the conference’s All-Rookie Team and Second All-Star Team. Bordeleau didn’t get the chance to play in the Frozen Four Tournament when Michigan had to withdraw from the tournament due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Skating

While Bordeleau lacks height, he does have a well-developed, muscular frame that allows him to be heavily involved in all areas of the ice. He has very good balance and is tough to knock off the puck, allowing him to win battles on the boards as well as play in the dangerous areas of the ice. He has a short, choppy stride but this does not slow him down at all, as he is one of the quicker players in this draft class. Bordeleau reaches his top-end speed quickly with good acceleration. His edgework and agility are also high-end.

Offensive Game

Bordeleau has an outstanding arsenal of shots, with a good wrist shot, snap shot, slap shot, and even backhand. He gets those shots off quickly, with an outstanding release. They also feature both accuracy and power. A pure sniper, he is willing to shoot at any time, from any angle. Bordeleau has the smarts to get himself open when he does not have the puck. He finds the soft spots in the opponent’s defence and makes himself available for a pass. Bordeleau can also create his own shot off the rush. He can get past a defender and cut to the net with his speed. As defenders back off against him, he can use them as a screen and fire the puck on the net.

While he loves to shoot, he can also take on the role of playmaker. He has excellent vision and the skill to move the puck through tight lanes. Bordeleau has excellent hands. He can control the play, slowing it down or speeding it up. He can also make a quick move on a defender to open up a passing lane. Bordeleau reads the movements of his teammates extremely well. He anticipates where they are going and finds them with a tape-to-tape pass. He can control the power play from the half boards, looking to set up teammates for scoring chances. Bordeleau is willing to work along the boards, where he wins a surprising number of battles despite a lack of size.

Defensive Game

Bordeleau’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. There are times when he is working hard in all three zones and is committed to playing a strong defensive game. However, he also has some inconsistency and can get caught flat-footed and puck watching in his own end of the ice. There are other times when he can leave the zone a bit early, looking to fly through the neutral zone to create an offensive chance. Even when he is supporting the defence down low, he can be overpowered when defending the cycle game against bigger and stronger forwards.

Projection and Comparison

While Bordeleau has been a centre with the US NTDP and with Michigan, his future may be as a winger due to the lack of height and his defensive issues. However, his offensive game gives him the potential to become a top-six forward in the NHL. He can also spend more time at the University of Michigan bulking up and getting stronger. The Wolverines are a pre-season favourite for the National Title and Bordeleau is a big part of their top-six. Bordeleau has a good chance to play for the U.S. team at the World Juniors next year as well.

 

#3 Prospect Ozzy Weisblatt

Right Wing/Centre — shoots Right
Born March 9th, 2002 — Calgary, Alberta
Height 5’10” — Weight 183 lbs [178 cm/83 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 1st Round, #31 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft

It was a weird season for a number of Canadian Junior players and for Ozzy Weisblatt, that is no different. He got his first pro experience, playing six games for the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL. Weisblatt scored two goals and an assist for three points. He also played 23 games for Prince Albert in the WHL, scoring seven goals and 28 points.

Skating

Wiesblatt is an outstanding skater. He has an explosive first step and excellent acceleration. His top-end speed is extremely fast. Wiesblatt’s ability to change speeds can be used to give defenders issues on the rush. He also has very good agility and edgework. His quick cuts and changes in direction can cause issues for defenders. Wiesblatt has a strong lower body and low centre of gravity. His strong stride allows him to fight through checks and get to the dirty areas of the ice. He is also good along the boards despite his lack of size. Wiesblatt will need to get stronger to continue to play this type of game at the pro level. He should be able to add additional muscle as he matures.

Offensive Game

Wiesblatt is very effective in generating scoring opportunities and maintaining puck possession. He combines his skating ability with excellent puck handling skills. Wiesblatt can make plays on the rush, setting up teammates, driving the net with and without the puck and using defenders as a screen to shoot on the net. He also does a really good job of controlling the puck in the cycle game. He moves the puck to a teammate and then gets himself open for the return pass. Wiesblatt can control the puck, slowing down the play or speeding up to give his teammates a chance to get open. When they do, he can make a pass through a tight area to create a scoring chance.

Wiesblatt can also play the role of a goal scorer. He loves to shoot the puck and can get it on the net with an accurate wrist shot or snapshot. He will even take backhands. Wiesblatt has a good release on his shots. He could stand to add more power on his shot though. This could come with increased upper body strength. Wiesblatt is more effective on the boards and in the front of the net than one would expect given his lack of size. He pressures defenders on the forecheck and forces them to make mistakes. When that happens, he can create a scoring chance.

Defensive Game

Wiesblatt works hard in his own zone as well. He is a smart player who takes good routes to the puck and stays in his position. He supports the defence with effective backpressure against the rush and by supporting against the cycle game. Wiesblatt is also good at reading the play. He anticipates well, getting himself in position to intercept passes and transition into the offence. His active stick knocks the puck away from opponents as well. Wiesblatt’s size can be an issue facing particularly big and strong opponents though. When he’s been used at centre he’s been successful in the faceoff circle.

Projection and Comparison

Wiesblatt has played both centre and wing over the past two seasons but has seemed more comfortable on the wing. His ability to play the game at a high pace is a major asset. Wiesblatt will need to get stronger if he wants to play in the middle at the pro level. He has the potential to be a second or third-line player, capable of playing key minutes in any situation if he continues to develop. Expect to see him back in the WHL next season as he needs time before he is NHL Ready.

 

Prospect #4: Jonathan Dahlen

Left Wing/Centre — shoots Left
Born December 20th, 1997 — Ostersund, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 180 lbs [180 cm / 82 kg]
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 2nd round, #42 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft
Traded to the Vancouver CanucksFebruary 2017
Traded to the San Jose Sharks, February 2019

Dahlen spent another season in Sweden. He dominated that Allsvenskan, the second-tier Swedish League, putting up 25 goals and 71 points in 45 games. He also added 10 goals 22 points in 15 games in the SHL Qualification Playoffs.  Dahlen led Timra to the Allsvenskan Championship.  He won basically every regular season and playoff award available in the league.

Skating

Dahlen is not the fastest skater, but his speed isn’t bad either. It is currently above average and has been improving over the last couple of years. He is working to make his awkward, choppy stride into a more fluid one. There is still a bit more work to do and he could see his speed really improve as the technique comes together.

Dahlen has outstanding agility and edgework though. Even without elite speed, Dahlen is able to beat defenders one-on-one with his good stickhandling skills, and his ability to quickly change directions or change speeds. He has gotten stronger and improved his balance over the last two years. He is stronger on the puck and better at winning battles on the boards. He can still improve a bit more but there has been big strides taken.

Offensive Game

Dahlen is an impressive offensive talent. He may be a bit undersized, but he has all the skills scouts look for when it comes to an offensive forward. He has an excellent array of shots, including a good wrist shot with a quick release; a hard slapshot; and a quality backhand. He has the soft hands to make moves on defenders and get himself the open space to get a shot off, as well as the hockey sense and the elusiveness to find open spots in the defence where a teammate can hit him with a pass.

Dahlen can also play the role of playmaker, with excellent vision and hockey sense, and the talent to slide the puck through small openings or flip a saucer pass to a teammate. His quick hands and good agility allow him to make quick movements to open up a passing lane to a teammate. In addition Dahlen controls the puck, keeping possession and giving his teammates time to get open. He can stand to be more physical and play a bit less of a perimeter game going forward though and get to the more dirty areas of the ice.

Defensive Game

Jonathan Dahlen’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He has a tendency to fly the zone early as he looks to drive offence through the transition game. He also can get caught out of position when he starts to puck watch and stops moving his feet. A good coach will need to work with Dahlen on these issues.

Outlook

After two seasons in Sweden, Dahlen returns to the Sharks this year. After his two big seasons in Sweden and with the Sharks in rebuild mode, he should be able to crack the lineup and make an impact in San Jose this season. He can become a top-six winger in time.

 

Prospect #5: Ryan Merkley

Defence — shoots Right
Born August 14th, 2000 — Mississauga, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 170 lbs [180 cm / 77 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 1st round, #21 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft

After a season rehabbing his image and game in London, Merkley had his first pro season with San Jose last year. He put up 1 goal and 11 points in 31 games.

Skating

Merkley is a dynamic offensive defenceman, with great skating in both directions. He seems to glide above the ice. Merkley is extremely fast, and he reaches that top speed in just a few strides with excellent acceleration. His tremendous edge work, pivots and agility allow him to cover a ton of ice. He can lead the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still recover and get back defensively. His skating may even lead to him taking too many chances at times, believing he can always recover. Merkley’s strong footwork allows him to walk the line at the point, opening up passing and shooting lanes. He could be stronger in his lower body, leading to better balance, being stronger on the puck, and better in battles along the boards.

Offensive Game

Merkley has the skating and passing skills to start the transition game. He is a talented puck handler who can carry the puck out of his own end and lead the transition game. Merkley is also able to make a long home-run pass in transition. He can also quarterback the play from the point. Merkley has great vision and passing skills. He can thread tape-to-tape passes through tight areas, and set up teammates for scoring chances.

Merkley also has an excellent point shot and loves to let it go from the point. His slap shot is powerful and accurate, and his wrist shot and snapshot also have quick releases. Merkley has a knack for opening up shooting lanes and getting his shot on net through traffic. He also keeps his shots low, allowing teammates to set up screens, get tip-ins, and pounce on rebounds.

Defensive Game

Merkley’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. It was a huge question mark in his draft year and the following season but started to get better in London as well as last year in the AHL. He has gotten stronger and this helps him along the boards and in front of the net. However, his positioning and decision-making are still inconsistent.  They have also improved, but there are times he reverts to the old issues. One area that has improved is his intensity in his own end of the ice. He still needs to work on his game, but at least it is no longer a question of effort or commitment.

Outlook

Merkley has the offensive skills to make a difference at the NHL level, but really needs to continue to work on his defensive game. Expect to see him back with the Barracuda. He’s made some strides but there are still areas he can work on.

Prospect #6: John Leonard

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born August 7th, 1998 — Westwood, New Jersey
Height 5’11” — Weight 183 lbs [180 cm/83 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 6th round, #182 overall, at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft

Leonard made his way to the Sharks and had three goals and 13 points in 44 games in his first professional season. He also had two points in two AHL games. Leonard still qualifies as a prospect, coming in just six games played under the line.

Skating

Leonard is a very good skater. His knee bend and hips are solid, leading to a powerful stride and good speed and acceleration. Leonard is not an elite speedster but is in the tier below that. He can keep up with the play and if he gets a step on a defender, he can accelerate to the net. He also has good agility and edgework allowing him to make a quick move to open up space and get away from his man. Leonard has decent core strength. While he’s not a power forward, he can hold his own on the boards and in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Leonard is a creative and skilled playmaker. He pairs his strong skating with good stickhandling ability. This helps him to carry the puck through the neutral zone and generate effective zone entries. It also allows him to control the puck on the boards and in the cycle game. When teammates get open, he sees them and can make a quick move with his hands or lateral agility to open up a passing lane. Leonard can make that pass through the tight areas.

Leonard has a good release on his shot and is accurate. However, he lacks some power. This means that he scores the majority of his goals from the faceoff dots and in. His wrist shot doesn’t have the velocity to challenge goaltenders from further out. However, he has the soft hands to score in tight to the goalie, pouncing on rebounds and deflecting in a teammate’s shot.

Defensive Game

Leonard is strong positionally and uses his stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes. He is a smart player who anticipates plays that the opponent may try and puts himself into good positions to create turnovers. Once a turnover is created, he can quickly transition to offence. Leonard understands his responsibilities in his own end and is willing to back check and create backpressure against the rush.

Outlook

After spending most of last season with the Sharks, expect Leonard to continue in the NHL next year. He’s an NHL player at this point, and his strong defence will keep him there. The question though is how much more of his offensive skill will translate into points and if he can take a top-six role and stay there going forward.

 

Prospect #7: Artemi Kniazev

Defence — shoots Left
Born January 4th, 2001 — Kazan, Russia
Height 5’10.5″ — Weight 182 lbs [178 cm/83 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 2nd round, #48 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft

Kniazev started the season in Russia due to the pandemic. He put up four points in five games in the VHL and one point in two games in the MHL. He then played for the Russian team at the World Juniors, picking up four points in seven games. When Kniazev finally returned to Chicoutimi, he put up five goals and 18 points in 14 games. He also added nine points in nine playoff games.

Skating

Kniazev is a very strong skater. He has good speed and acceleration in both directions. This allows him to join the rush or to pinch in at the blue line and still get back to make defensive plays. His first few steps and his acceleration are very good and allow him to reach that top speed quickly. Add in smooth pivots and he has the ability to transition from offence to defence quickly and vice-versa. His edgework and agility are also strong. One area where he can improve is in his core strength. This would give Kniazev better balance and allow him to be stronger on the puck.

Offensive Game

Kniazev is a strong puck mover. He combines his strong skating ability with excellent puck handling. He can skate the puck past forecheckers as well as carry it through the neutral zone. Kniazev is very good at generating effective zone entries. He also has very good vision and makes a smart first pass. This is true if he is starting the breakout with a short pass to a forward or if he is hitting a streaking winger with a long breakaway pass. Kniazev has the poise to handle the puck at the blue line. He has good vision and passing skills and can quarterback the power play.

Kniazev likes to sneak in from the blue line and let his wrist shot go from the top of the circles. He also likes to shoot the puck off the rush. His wrist shot is extremely accurate and features a very quick release. However, the power of the shot is merely average. His slap shot could also use more velocity. This could improve with added upper body strength. He also makes the most of his shot by using his agility to move side-to-side across the blue line and open up shooting lanes.

Defensive Game

Kniazev could stand to work on his defensive game. He needs to be more patient and disciplined. He often looks to make a big play, whether that be a hit or stealing a puck from an opponent. This can lead to him over-committing and getting himself caught out of position. Despite his lack of size, Kniazev is willing to play physically, especially against the rush. Away from the puck, Kniazev has a tendency to get caught puck watching and to stop moving his feet. This can lead to him losing his man and his positioning needs some work. He retrieves pucks quickly and moves them up the ice quickly, limiting his team’s time in their own end. These are all issues that can be worked on and improved with proper coaching and time, but he does need some work.

Outlook

Kniazev has the potential to be an offensive defenceman. There is room to improve his defensive game, with better positioning and discipline. While it is unlikely that he will ever become a defensive stalwart, he has the tools to be passable as an NHL defenceman if he develops well. He will be a bit of a project and should find himself with the Barracuda next season.

 

Prospect #8: Daniil Gushchin

Left Wing/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born February 6th, 2002 — Yekaterinberg, Russia
Height 5’8″ — Weight 165 lbs [173 cm/75 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 3rd Round, #76 Overall at the 2020 NHL Draft.

Gushchin had another strong season with Muskegon in the USHL. He scored 32 goals and 64 points in 46 games. He also put up four points in four playoff games. He was named to the USHL’s First All-Star Team.

Skating

An undersized forward, Gushchin makes up for it with his strong skating ability. He has very good top-end speed. He reaches that speed in just a few strides with a quick first step and good acceleration. His ability to change speeds is also a weapon he can use on the rush. Gushchin’s edgework and agility are outstanding. He can change directions on a dime. This makes him extremely elusive and very hard to contain in one-on-one situations. Gushchin has a low centre of gravity and this helps his balance and allows him to be strong on the puck. However, he will need to get stronger for this to remain a strength against professional opponents.

Offensive Game

Gushchin has outstanding hands. He can make plays while moving at top speed. He can also stickhandle in a phone booth, making a number of nifty dangles or slick moves in tight spaces. Gushchin is very difficult to contain in one-on-one situations as a result. He sees the ice extremely well and can anticipate where his teammates are going. With a quick move, he can open up a passing lane and get it to a teammate for a scoring chance. He is not afraid to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice or to take a hit to make a play.  Gushchin has the ability to speed up or slow down the play. He controls things on the half-boards or at the point on the power play, setting up scoring chances.

Gushchin’s bread and butter is his playmaking ability but he can also score goals. He has a quick release on his wrist shot and is very accurate. His shot could use more power in order to score from further out as he currently scores the majority of his goals in tight. He also has the quick hands to beat the goalie in tight. Gushchin is effective as a forechecker thanks to his speed. He can chase down opponents and force them into mistakes. He is willing to fight for loose pucks but is not a big hitter.

Defensive Game

Gushchin needs to be more consistent in his defensive game. There are times he is dogged in chasing down loose pucks and trying to create a turnover by stealing the puck from an opponent. When he pays attention to details, he gets himself into good positions to make plays to get the puck back and start the transition game. However, there are other times when Gushchin stops moving his feet and starts puck watching in the defensive zone. He occasionally flies the zone early, looking to create an offensive chance instead of making sure the puck is cleared. With more maturity, it is hoped he will be committed to a responsible game.

Projection and Comparison

Gushchin’s offensive skills make him a real boom or bust prospect. He will need to improve his strength to reach the next level. Gushchin will also need to improve his defensive game or he will drive coaches crazy. He will also need to overcome his lack of size. Gushchin will get the opportunity to go pro and is likely to play for the Barracuda next season.

 

Prospect #9: Benjamin Gaudreau

The Sharks drafted Gaudreau with the 81st overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Gaudreau. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

Prospect #10: Sasha Chmelevski

Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born June 9th, 1999 — Huntington Beach, California
Height 6’0″ — Weight 185 lbs [183 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 6th round, #185 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

A sixth-round pick, Chmelevski is looking like a steal for the Sharks. He put up nine goals and 20 points in 27 AHL games in his second pro season. He also got some time in San Jose, picking up two assists in five games. Chmelevski played for Team USA at the Men’s World Championships, scoring two goals and four points in eight games.

Skating

An incredible skater, Chmelevski has outstanding speed as well as excellent acceleration. He is dynamic off the rush and can use his ability to change speeds as a weapon. If defencemen don’t respect his speed, he can beat them to the outside and cut to the net. If they back off too far, he can slow down and use the open space to make plays. He also has excellent edgework. Chmelevski has the ability to change directions on a dime. This makes him extremely elusive, both with and without the puck. He could stand to add a little lower body muscle and be stronger on the puck.

Offensive Game

Chmelevski reads the play extremely well and makes very good decisions with and without the puck. His stickhandling is very good, with the ability to control the puck and make fancy moves while moving at top speed. Chmelevski can control the puck, protect it, and make plays in very tight spaces. He also has a strong wrist shot and a quick release. He couples this with an excellent one-timer and the ability to score in tight to the net to be a pure sniper.

Chmelevski also has good passing skills, but can sometimes focus a little too much on his own shot. When he is moving the puck effectively, he has good vision and the ability to feather the puck through tight areas. The biggest improvements in Chmelevski’s game have come with his consistency and his intensity. Previously criticized for not working hard every game, this has become a thing of the past. As Chmelvski has matured he has learned that he needs to keep his focus and continue to be involved in the dirty areas of the ice every night.

Defensive Game

Chmelevski’s defensive game has improved over the last few years as well. His issues with intensity and consistency extended to the defensive end of the ice and so have the improvements. He has reduced his tendency to float defensively, waiting for his teammates to get the puck and start the transition. Instead, he works to support the defence down low and create turnovers and start the transition game. His positioning without the puck has also improved, though he can still get even better going forward.

Outlook

Chmelevski still has some work to do before he is ready to play in the NHL full time. He should be in the AHL but have some NHL time when injuries hit or maybe in the second half of the year.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Joachim Blichfeld

Left Wing — shoots Right
Born July 17th, 1998 — Frederikshavn, Denmark
Height 6’2″ — Weight 188 [188 cm/85 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 7th round, #210 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft

Blichfeld also saw some NHL time last year with one goal in five games with the Sharks. He was really strong in the AHL though with 12 goals and 22 points in 25 games. He also played some pro hockey in Denmark, scoring five goals and 12 points in 12 games.

Skating

Blichfeld’s skating was once seen as a liability but has greatly improved over his time with Portland. He will never be confused for a speedster but Blichfeld can keep up with the play. His first step and acceleration have also improved. Blichfeld has a strong lower-body and good balance. This helps him to power through checks and get to the front of the net. It also helps him to battle for loose pucks and to establish his position in front of the opponent’s net. He is tough to knock off the puck as well. Blichfeld has decent agility and edgework, helping him to get around opponents and into open ice.

Offensive Game

He is not the flashiest player, but Blichfeld plays a very smart game. He finds openings in the defence and gets set up for his shot. His wrist shot is heavy and accurate, but he could work on getting an even quicker release. He also has a good one-timer. At 6-foot-2 he has the size to get to the front of the net and provide screens and pounce on rebounds. He is also good at getting tip-ins and deflections with his good hand-eye coordination.

Most of Blichfeld’s assists come through good puck control on the cycle game and keeping possession in the offensive zone. He uses his body and stick-handling ability to protect the puck and extend plays, waiting for a teammate to get open. Once they do, he has the vision and passing skills to set up a scoring chance. Blichfeld is not a big hitter but he is physical in battling for loose pucks along the boards.

Defensive Game

Blichfeld’s defensive game was once a liability but has been greatly improved. He even spent time killing penalties for the Winterhawks before leaving junior. He hasn’t had much work in that role with the Barracuda but it may come as he matures. He has improved his positioning and uses his long stick to cut down passing and shooting lames. Blichfeld is also willing to use his body to support the defence down low. While not a big hitter, he is able to use his size and strength to contain opponents on the cycle and to battle for loose pucks on the boards.

Outlook

Blichfeld needs to show that he is ready for full-time NHL duty. He is now 23 and after a few years of professional hockey in the minors, it’s time for him to take the next step and crack the Sharks lineup.

 

Further 2021 San Jose Sharks Prospects in System

While the Sharks still have work to do rebuilding their system, there are some other prospects worth keeping an eye on in the system. Forwards Tristen Robins, Ivan Chekovich, Yegor Spiridonov, Zachary Gallant, Dillon Hamaliuk, Scott Reedy, and Vladislav Kotkov are worth keeping an eye on. Defenders Santeri Hatakka and Brinson Pasichnuk are also ones to watch. In goal the Sharks also have Zacharie Emond, Alexei Melnichuk, and Zach Sawchenko.

 

2021 San Jose Sharks Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY – JULY 23: With the seventh pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks select William Eklund during the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021, in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)