The Sharks dipped eight spots in The Athletic’s annual ranking of NHL organization's young talent, falling from No. 20 on the 2019 list to No. 28 in the 2020 edition.
With a veteran-laden roster, the Sharks need contributions from their prospects. But according to Corey Pronman, the Sharks' system doesn't feature an up-and-coming impact player.
Pronman’s annual rankings take into account the organizational farm systems and the NHL talent on hand, as any player 22 years old or younger as of Sept. 15, 2020 was eligible.
“The Sharks extended their contending window as long as they did on the backs of consistently getting incredible value from players who didn’t cost a lot,” Pronman writes in his explanation for the ranking. “That worked for a while but it can only work for so long. The Sharks’ system right now still has some value acquisitions. John Leonard looks like a heck of a sixth-round pick. Later round picks like Sasha Chmelevski, Noah Gregor and Joachim Blichfeld look like they could play. College free agent Brinson Pasichnuk is intriguing. The system however lacks a real top-end talent or two, even if that player could arguably be defenseman Ryan Merkley.”
San Jose traded away their own 2020 first-round draft pick when they acquired defender Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators in Sept. 2018. But general manager Doug Wilson managed to jump back into the first round when he traded Barclay Goodrow and a 2020 third-round draft pick to Tampa Bay Lightning for their top selection and forward Anthony Greco.
After a handful of years among the best teams in the Western Conference, the Sharks fell hard back to earth this past season.
While they might not seem to have as much talent coming up through the ranks, these are all projections of extremely young players. We’ll see how much Wilson and the front office emphasize rebuilding the farm system this offseason.