NHL Draft 2019: Here's how Sharks' recent picks have been doing so far


NHL Draft 2019: Here's how Sharks' recent picks have been doing so far

The San Jose Sharks have found a wealth of success with some of their draft picks over the last couple of years, whether it's a first-round selection like Tomas Hertl or Timo Meier, or a sixth-round choice like Kevin Labanc -- or even a seventh-rounder like captain Joe Pavelski.

San Jose doesn't have a first-round selection in this year's NHL draft up in Vancouver. So in preparation for the rest of the weekend and the upcoming development camp, here's how San Jose's prospects from the last two drafts are doing:

Ryan Merkley, defenseman -- first round, 21st overall pick, 2018
The Sharks turned some heads when they used their first-round pick in 2018 to select Merkley. While the Oakville, Ontario native was considered a dynamic two-way defenseman, he also had a couple of behavioral mishaps that made him a bit of a risky pick-up. But San Jose was confident in the homework it did on Merkley and took him with the 21st overall pick.

Merkley, 18, started the 2018-19 season with the Guelph Storm before being traded to the Peterborough Petes, registering 71 points (14 goals, 57 assists) and a plus-4 rating between the two teams. 

He was called up to make his AHL debut with the Barracuda this past April, playing in two regular-season contests for San Jose. He tallied no points and a minus-1 rating. 

Zachary Emond, goalie -- sixth round, 176th overall pick, 2018
It's no wonder the Sharks signed Emond to an entry-level contract this past spring. The 18-year-old netminder finished his 2018-19 campaign for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies with a 24-0-1 record, leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a 1.73 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and seven shutouts.

With that shining résumé, Emond helped lead the Huskies to a QMJHL championship and Memorial Cup championship.

"Zach's overall development and growth improved immensely this season, recording seven shutouts and an unprecedented 24-0-1 record," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a press release after the team signed Emond. "We're excited to watch him take over the helm in the crease next year and build on his impressive performance from the previous campaign."  

Mario Ferraro, defenseman -- second round, 49th overall pick, 2017
Ferraro was coming off his final season with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL when the Sharks drafted him in 2017. He since has put together two impressive campaigns playing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, serving as an alternate captain during the 2018-19 season.

The 20-year-old blueliner registered 37 points (six goals, 31 assists) and 43 penalty minutes over two seasons playing at the NCAA level.

Alexander Chmelevski, center -- sixth round, 185th overall pick, 2017
Chmelevski is one player Sharks fans are no doubt excited to see participate in this summer's prospect scrimmage after the impressive season he just had at the junior level.

The Huntington Beach native is coming off a beastly campaign, tallying 75 points in 56 regular season games for the Ottawa 67s and 31 points in 18 playoff contests. He also tallied seven points for Team USA in this past year's World Juniors competition. 

Chmelevski had a brief stint with the Barracuda during their 2017-18 season, tallying four points (three goals, one assist) in six regular-season matchups and two points (one goal, one assist) through four AHL playoff games.

[RELATED: Sharks to play Golden Knights in first two games next season]

Ivan Chekhovich, left wing -- seventh round, 212th overall pick, 2017
When the Sharks signed Chekhovich to an entry-level contract in April 2018, Wilson was quick to point out how quickly the then-19-year-old adjusted to playing hockey at the pro level.

"He has proven in his short stint of professional hockey that he can keep up with the pace and physicality," Wilson said in a team press release. "His offensive instincts and creativity make him a dangerous player in the opposing team's end and we look forward to seeing him develop with our organization."

The Russian winger continues to build on his game season after season and is coming off a staggering 105-point campaign with Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL. He added to that with four points (one goal, three assists) in five regular-season games and three points (one goal, three assists) in four playoff games with the Barracuda this past season.

Sharks' Radim Simek improving, but not expected to play on road trip

Sharks' Radim Simek improving, but not expected to play on road trip

The Sharks made good use of their three-game homestand, earning four of six possible points against high-quality competition to get back on track after a miserable start to the season. San Jose's improved play has coincided with Patrick Marleau's arrival and Evander Kane's return to the lineup, and the Sharks will attempt to build off their recent momentum as they head off on a five-game road trip.

Unfortunately for San Jose, it doesn't sound as if the team will get back further reinforcements for the games in Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Boston. The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported that defenseman Radim Simek participated in some practice drills Wednesday, but is unlikely to play on the upcoming road trip, according to head coach Peter DeBoer.

Simek underwent knee surgery in March and has been rehabbing ever since. He's been somewhat of a secret weapon for San Jose, as the Sharks went 29-9-3 with him in the lineup last season, and allowed lower rates of shot attempts, shots and chances with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations than when he wasn't. San Jose has proceeded cautiously with Simek and won't rush him back, but the fact that he was participating in more physical drills Wednesday bodes well for a return in the relatively near future.

Speaking of physicality, that's an area DeBoer believes the Sharks have been lacking in recently, and one that both Simek and another on-the-mend defenseman can help out in. Dalton Prout has been out of the lineup since the first game of the season, but that's bound to change soon, according to the Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka.

With both Prout and Simek expected to rejoin the team soon, it begs the question as to who they'll replace. Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brenden Dillon aren't going anywhere, and rookie Mario Ferraro has played well beyond his years. Tim Heed has been in and out of the dog house, and the most likely scenario is that Prout and/or Simek takes his spot on the third pair.

[RELATED: Exclusive: Marleau reflects on Sharks return in ride to SAP]

The Sharks have done a good job to get their feet back under them. They won't be at full strength for the upcoming road trip, but clearly, they're getting closer.

What Sharks like about way they are playing despite loss to Sabres

What Sharks like about way they are playing despite loss to Sabres

SAN JOSE - Saturday night's Sharks-Sabres matchup ended up being an entertaining one for sure, with a lot of the action taking place in the final 20 minutes of the game.

And even though San Jose lost 4-3 and had their three-game winning-streak snapped, they still believe that their overall game is headed in the right direction. 

"When I look at seven or eight games that we've played, that's probably one of the better 60-minute efforts we've got," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said afterward. "I think we're getting better. I can tell you, I like where our game's at now a lot better than I did two weeks ago."

Captain Logan Couture agreed, although he wanted to see a different result in Saturday's contest.

"I thought we played well, we could've done some things better," Couture said, giving the opposition the credit they deserve. "They're a very good team. It's no fluke over there that they have their record. They're playing very good hockey. We had an opportunity to beat them, just one more mistake on our end tonight."

One of the biggest problems San Jose ran into was penalty trouble in the second period. Sure, the penalty kill remains dominant and was able to keep Buffalo's potent power play from finding the back of the net. In fact, San Jose's special teams overall played a huge factor in them keeping the game close. But as Couture explained, being down a skater for too long can have a negative effect on a team's even-strength game -- even one with as good of a PK as San Jose has right now.

"It's tough to get in a rhythm," Couture explained. "There were so many penalties. For our line, especially, I think we only had two even-strength shifts in the second."

But the Sharks are happy with how they pushed back late in the game to keep things close. After the Sabres jumped out to a 2-1 lead at the end of the second period, the Sharks began creating more chances in their own end to keep the visitors from running away with the game. They traded tallies with Buffalo thanks to two big goals from Tomas Hertl and Marcus Sorensen. Even after Zemgus Girgensons buried the Sabres' fourth goal on the evening, San Jose continued to press and get looks in front of the net as the final few minutes of play expired.

"I liked our resiliency," DeBoer said. "I thought we battled all night."

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on Sharks return]

The Sharks will get another crack at the Sabres this upcoming Tuesday as they kick off an East Coast swing in Buffalo. San Jose might not be very happy with the mistakes they made on Saturday night, but they can at least see that their overall game his trending in the right direction.

"We still had a couple of bad mistakes, but we have to learn from it and be better," Hertl said. "It's kind of a tough loss but we have to bounce back. We (play) against them in the next game so we have to be ready for them."