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September 4, 2013
Top 10 Prospects 2013
San Jose Sharks

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

San Jose Sharks Top 10 Prospects

1. Tomas Hertl, Center
2. Mirco Mueller, Defense
3. Matt Nieto, Left Wing
4. Dan O'Regan, Center
5. Daniil Tarasov, Right Wing
6. Freddie Hamilton, Center
7. Chris Tierney, Center
8. Matt Tennyson, Defense
9. Konrad Abeltshauser, Defense
10. Dylan DeMelo, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 26th

System Overview

The Sharks system has seen gradual improvements over the last few seasons, as the team has begun to draft players with upside, as well as make several savvy free agent signings. There is still a lack of high-end talents in the pipeline (outside of Tomas Hertl), but there are several players here with significant potential, even if they carry risk as well.

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1. Tomas Hertl, Center
2011-12 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 11/12/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 43 GP, 18 G, 30 P (Slavia Praha, Czech Extraliga)
Acquired: First round, 17th overall in 2012 by San Jose

Year in Review: Hertl had a very good season, as he was one of the top young players in the Czech league in a while. He also was a top player at the World Juniors, and he got time with the Czech national team.

The Good: Hertl is an immensely-skilled player who brings multiple dimensions to his game. His puck skills are high end, he has a high level of creativity, and he can be a nuisance for defenders to check, even for a big man. Hertl is also a pretty smart two-way player, with the vision to make plays in the offensive end and the defensive skills to play against good players and kill penalties effectively. He has a big body, he can protect the puck well, and he will grind out battles in the corner.

The Bad: Hertl needs to continue working on his skating to get quicker. He also needs to gain more strength to make the eventual jump to the NHL.

Projection: He could be a below-average top line center.

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2. Mirco Mueller, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 03/21/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 184
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 63 GP, 6 G, 31 P (Everett, WHL)
Acquired: First round, 18th overall in 2013 by San Jose

Year in Review: Mueller had a quality rookie season in the WHL, and he really played well after Ryan Murray got injured, as he took on the tough responsibility.

The Good: Mueller's best trait is his hockey sense. He displays great awareness at both ends of the rink. He makes a lot of defensive plays with his positioning, anticipation, and gap control, which is aided by his very good mobility. Mueller also moves the puck at an above-average level, and shows pretty good calmness. His all-around decision making is impressive. He has slightly above-average size, and he will play the body.

The Bad: Mueller's pure offensive skill is roughly average, and he will not be a guy who will wow anyone with a great rush or deke. He also needs to put on a lot of strength.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defenseman.

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3. Matt Nieto, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 11/05/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 39 GP, 18 G, 37 P (Boston University, NCAA)
Acquired: Second round, 47th overall in 2011 by San Jose

Year in Review: Nieto was one of the top players for Boston University in his junior season. He then turned pro, and had a solid 11-game stint in the AHL as well.

The Good: Nieto is a high-end skater who generates a ton of power in each step. He has a very easy stride and good agility on his edges. His puck possession is solid, as he has above-average creativity with solid puck skills. Nieto's vision is also good, and he has an above-average shot. Nieto's defensive game has really improved, and he showed quality penalty killing skills this season.

The Bad: Nieto's size is his main weakness. His consistency is not the best as well. He also tends to force plays at times.

Projection: He could be a second line winger.

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4. Dan O'Regan, Center
2011-12 Ranking: 12th
Date of birth:01/30/1994
Age: 19
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 176
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 39 GP, 16 G, 38 P (Boston University, NCAA)
Acquired: Fifth round, 138th overall in 2012 by San Jose

Year in Review: O'Regan was one of the top freshmen in the country, ranking second among first-year college players in scoring.

The Good: O'Regan is a great playmaker with above-average to high-end vision. His ability to be the starting point of offense is quite good, as he is a creative offensive forward who plays at a quick pace. His puck skills are above average, and he flashes skating skill of the same level. O'Regan is trending up; he has developed very well over the last 18 months.

The Bad: O'Regan's size works against him, and without dynamic skills, it could possibly be a notable hindrance to him as a pro. His defense needs work, and he can be victim of poor turnovers at times.

Projection: He could be a second line forward.

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5. Daniil Tarasov, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 11/05/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 43 GP, 14 G, 28 P (Worcester, AHL)
Acquired: Free agent

Year in Review: Tarasov came out of nowhere this season. He signed a pro deal out of the USHL, and after being sent down to the ECHL, eventually fought his way back up to being one of Worcester's top players.

The Good: Tarasov is a skilled player who plays at a good pace. His creativity is notably above average, and his offensive hockey sense drives a lot of his value. Tarasov sees the ice well, and he has the hand-eye coordination to make tough plays. His skating has improved to the point where he is around pro average now. His bursts are solid. Tarasov also has a decent on-ice work ethic.

The Bad: Tarasov's defense has improved, but he still needs work in that area. His physical game is also slightly below average. It remains to be seen if he is dynamic enough offensively to make it in the NHL as a scorer.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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6. Freddie Hamilton, Center
2011-12 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 01/01/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 76 GP, 13 G, 26 P (Worcester, AHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 129thoverall in 2010 by San Jose

The Good: Hamilton's best skill is far and away his hockey sense, which is high end. He is a great defensive player who can match up versus good players at the pro level already. Hamilton is also a smart playmaker, with solid offensive instincts. He sees the ice well and knows how to create chances. Hamilton is a slightly above-average skater as well, with a good top gear. He works hard in battles, will lay out to block shots, and is good at faceoffs. Hamilton can also play center and wing.

The Bad:Hamilton's pure offensive ceiling is a question mark. While he shows good offensive flashes, he has lengthy periods where he is not a big factor in that part of the game.

Projection: He could be a quality third line forward, with a chance to play on a scoring line while facing good players.

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7. Chris Tierney, Center
2011-12 Ranking: 14th
Date of birth: 07/01/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 187
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 68 GP, 15 G, 57 P (London, OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 55th overall in 2012 by San Jose

Year in Review: Tierney had a quality year; he played well, but he continued to be buried on the depth chart.

The Good: Tierney has a lot of appealing qualities. He skates pretty well, with a very dangerous top gear. He is a skilled, creative offensive player with above-average to plus vision and some flashiness to his game. Tierney works hard at both ends, and he has the good defensive awareness to play versus good offensive players. He is also solid at faceoffs.

The Bad: Tierney's production the last few seasons is somewhat concerning for a player who gets value from his offensive tools. He can force plays and be overly fancy at times. He also needs to continue to gain strength.

Projection: He could be a second line forward, although there is a good argument his ceiling is a third liner.

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8. Matt Tennyson, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 04/23/1990
Age: 23
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 205
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 60 GP, 5 G, 27 P (Worcester, AHL)
Acquired: College free agent

Year in Review: Tennyson was solid in his first full pro season, getting notable offensive responsibility, and even playing a brief stint in the NHL with San Jose.

The Good: Tennyson is a good skater, with quality speed and the ability to join the rush. He moves well in every direction, and activates well from the point. He is a solid offensive player who shows good vision and offensive instincts moving the puck, with nice flashes of top-end creativity. Tennyson is very good on the power play, and he can be an effective starting point of offense in all ends.

The Bad: Tennyson's defensive game is a question mark, and while his positioning has improved somewhat, he is still not great in that area of the game. His physical game is just average as well.

Projection: He could be a fringe fourth or good fifth defenseman.

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9. Konrad Abeltshauser, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 09/02/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 225
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 56 GP, 7 G, 54 P (Halifax, QMJHL)
Acquired: Sixth round, 163rd overall in 2010 by San Jose

Year in Review: Abeltshauer was solid in his overage season in the QMJHL, where was a second team All Star.

The Good: Abeltshauser is a very smart defenseman, especially in the offensive end. His offensive potential at his size is intriguing. He sees the ice well, moves the puck efficiently, and knows when to try for the difficult plays, which he usually executes. Abeltshauser is a big man with a large wingspan, and he is a good stick checker.

The Bad: Abeltshauser's main weakness is his skating, as he is a slightly below-average player mobility-wise, and he can be pressured by speedy forwards. He can make the odd bad defensive read as well.

Projection: He could be a fourth defenseman.

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10. Dylan DeMelo, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 8th
Date of birth: 05/01/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 194
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 64 GP, 15 G, 50 P (Mississauga, OHL)
Acquired: Sixth round, 179thoverall in 2011 by San Jose

Year in Review: DeMelo had a good last year in the OHL, where he was named a third team All Star, and he recorded his highest point total of his career.

The Good: DeMelo is a quality offensive defenseman with above-average hockey IQ as a puck mover. DeMelo does well at the top of a power play, with solid hands and creativity. He also has good anticipation on when to pinch or join the rush. His skating has improved, and his four-way movements now are about pro average.

The Bad: DeMelo is a little small for a defenseman, and he is not the meanest guy in terms of physicality. His defense has shown notable improvements over the last two seasons, but it is a minor question mark how good he will be on defense as a pro.

Projection: He could be a good third pairing defenseman who plays on the power play, with a chance to play on a second pairing.

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The Next Five

11. Sean Kuraly, Center: Kuraly skates very well and has a good power game. He shows flashes of skill, but is inconsistent there. He still has a number of kinks in his game to iron out.

12. Taylor Doherty, Defense: Doherty is a mammoth of a man with an elite physical game and decent skill. His skating and reads continue to hold him back, however.

13. Rylan Schwartz, Center: Schwartz is a very skilled playmaker with good hockey sense. However, he is an older player, and he is small. He could be a great free agent signing, or he may be a career AHLer.

14. Eriah Hayes, Right Wing: Hayes is a big power forward with a solid skill base and a great shot. His skating is a problem, and he is not an overly creative offensive player, more so a secondary option.

15. Gage Ausmus, Defense: Ausmus is a very solid defensive defenseman with high-end instincts in his own end. The rest of his game needs work, however.

The Sleeper: Michael Brodzinski, Defense

Brodzinski is a very talented player with high-end puck skills and a lot of potential. He needs to rein in his game and work on his defense, but his ceiling makes him a great sleeper.

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San Jose Sharks Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2013 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Tomas Hertl, Center
2. Mirco Mueller, Defense
3. Matt Nieto, Left Wing
4. Dan O'Regan, Center
5. Daniil Tarasov, Right Wing
6. Freddie Hamilton, Center
7. Chris Tierney, Center
8. Matt Tennyson, Defense
9. Konrad Abeltshauser, Defense
10.Dylan DeMelo, Defense

San Jose has no young players as NHL regulars per the criteria listed.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/02)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/02)
Next Column >>
Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/09)
Next Article >>
Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/09)

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