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.

NHL free-agency review: How Vegas Golden Knights stack up in Pacific Division


NHL free-agency review: How Vegas Golden Knights stack up in Pacific Division

Editor’s note: NHL free agency was fast and furious, and the moves that teams did (and did not) make set the tone for next season. All week, we’ll examine the Sharks’ Pacific Division rivals, and whether their free-agency approach put them in better, worse or the same position. Today, we dive into the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs can't be talked about without Game 7 between the Sharks and the Golden Knights in the Western Conference first round

In addition to being the ultimate edge-of-your-seat viewing experience, it gave the rest of the hockey world a glimpse into the bitter rivalry that has very quickly manifested between these two teams.

Despite being around for only two seasons, the Golden Knights have become a force to be reckoned with. And with most of the Pacific Division teams having down seasons, Vegas has emerged as San Jose's biggest competition on the West Coast.

So while the Sharks have a lot to focus on this offseason in terms of their own roster, it doesn't hurt to take a peek at what the opposition is up to, especially a team with no cap space to work with.

Here's a look at what Vegas has been up to since the free-agent market opened up.

Players who stayed

Vegas has been incredibly busy getting its players signed to deals this offseason, keeping important pieces of its roster together. They made the most noise in late June when they signed high-scoring center William Karlsson to an eight-year deal. The top-line pivot ranked second on the team last year with 56 regular-season points.

Vegas also kept some of their depth from last season, locking up forwards Tomas Nosek and Brandon Pirri, and backup goalie Malcolm Subban. 

The Golden Knights still have a couple of players hanging out as free agents. But given they currently have zero room under the salary cap, according to CapFriendly, there will be moves made before anyone else gets signed.

Players who left

The lack of breathing room under the salary cap has, as expected, signaled the exit of a handful of players Vegas had on its roster last season.

Defenseman Colin Miller was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and forward Erik Haula was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes ahead of free agency. Center Ryan Carpenter signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks in the first couple hours of free agency, and French forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare became one of many players scooped up by the Colorado Avalanche that same day.

Rumors have also been swirling that RFA Nikita Gusev could be headed to another team given Vegas doesn't have any room left under the cap, but there could also be another trade in the works to free up some money.

While the moves leave roles to be filled on Vegas' roster, it allows some of its promising young prospects to step up. The Golden Knights likely aren't done making moves this summer.

Better, worse, or the same?

Even with some pieces being moved around this offseason, the core of the Golden Knights is still intact.

With no cap space to work with, Vegas probably will make more moves this offseason. The Knights still, however, look like they're going to be the Sharks' toughest division rival for another season.

NHL free-agency review: How Edmonton Oilers stack up in Pacific Division

NHL free-agency review: How Edmonton Oilers stack up in Pacific Division

Editor’s note: NHL free agency was fast and furious, and the moves that teams did (and did not) make set the tone for next season. All week, we’ll examine the Sharks’ Pacific Division rivals, and whether their free-agency approach put them in better, worse or the same position. Today, we dive into the Edmonton Oilers.

It was only a couple of postseasons ago when the Oilers booted the Sharks from the Stanley Cup playoffs. But boy, have they spiraled out of control since then.

Despite having one of the best hockey players in the world on their team, the Oilers have developed a reputation for being inconsistent and sometimes looking like they really don't give a darn. The drama got turned up an extra notch this past season with the firing of coach Todd McLellan in November and of general manager Peter Chiarelli in February.

Now Edmonton is set with a new bench boss and GM and is making moves in free agency to improve its roster. But is it enough to completely rebound from a disappointing 2018-19 campaign?

Here's a look at what the Oilers have done since the free-agent market opened. 

Players who signed

New GM Ken Holland has gone to work trying to provide the Oilers with offensive depth in free agency, re-signing forwards Alex Chiasson and Jujhar Khaira and adding Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, and Gaetan Haas. 

But the most interesting signing thus far has been that of goaltender Mike Smith, previously with the Calgary Flames. Smith is coming off an inconsistent season where he lost out on the starting job to David Rittich, but was good down the stretch -- although the Flames were booted pretty quickly from the playoffs.

This addition could go one of two ways. Smith could have a bounceback season playing for David Tippett -- who has been his coach twice before -- or lose out on the starting job yet again, this time to Mikko Koskinen. 

Whichever goalie wins the job is going to have a challenging time with the lack of quality defense being played in front of them. Speaking of ...

Players who left

Edmonton started clearing room before the market opened by buying out the rest of Andrej Sekera's contract. Even though Sekera's career has been on the decline since he sustained an ACL injury a couple of seasons ago, it leaves a void on the Oilers' blue line.

Not ideal if your team is going up against an offense like the Sharks' multiple times a season.

[RELATED: Sharks re-sign RFAs Gambrell and Suomela to contracts]

It's believed Holland is going to make a big trade at some point this summer ahead of training camp to beef up the blue line. Until that happens, though, Edmonton's defense isn't looking too sturdy.

Better, worse, or the same?

As of right now, the Oilers don't appear to have made any big changes that could completely turn their fortunes around and still have pieces they need to add before next season starts.

They may have a new coach and general manager in place, but they'll need to do more than that if they want to be more competitive next season.