So as some of you might be aware, since the 2022 draft I've been drafting players to my own team, the HWH Sharks, using the picks the Sharks have in the real-life draft. These picks are done in real-time, and I cannot trade picks, change picks, or change players once I select one. I have to pick pretty much right away, to avoid spoiling who could be picked next and influence my decision. I also live-tweet the picks to prove that they're real. Anyways, if you want to read all about that and the picks / depth chart so far, here's the link.
So how are they doing? More importantly, how are they doing in comparison to the IRL Sharks picks? Is this article a little self-indulgent? Absolutely. Take it or leave it, and keep in mind that this is just one update in probably many throughout these players careers. Things change. I'm doing this to check myself in how I scout, plus to have a bit of fun. Let's do it.
2022 NHL Entry Draft
27th Overall - Jiri Kulich
34th Overall - Lane Hutson
45th Overall - Calle Odelius
76th Overall - Danny Zhilkin
108th Overall - Cedrick Guindon
140th Overall - Fabian Wagner
172nd Overall - Servac Petrovsky
195th Overall - Avery Hayes
217th Overall - Rodwin Dionicio
San Jose Sharks
27th Overall - Filip Bystedt
34th Overall - Cameron Lund
45th Overall - Mattias Hävelid
76th Overall - Michael Fisher
108th Overall - Mason Beaupit
140th Overall - Jake Furlong
172nd Overall - Joey Muldowney
195th Overall - Eli Barnett
217th Overall - Reese Laubach
Filip Bystedt vs. Jiri Kulich. At this point, I think we're probably days, weeks or maybe a few months away from Kulich being the first of either draft class from breaking into the NHL. He's over a point-per-game in the AHL as a 19 year old right now, with 13 points in 12 games, after a phenomenal rookie season, his first in NA. He put up 46 points, 24 goals, in 64 games last year for the Rochester Americans...as an 18 year old AHL rookie. Almost unheard of, mostly because most players aren't 18 when they play in the AHL, but still. He's a shooting threat from anywhere on the ice, and a puck-hound. The rest of his game needs to round out a bit, but his development, in my opinion, is miles ahead of where Bystedt is currently. Bystedt had a strong rookie SHL season, hovering near 0.5 PPG, but this year has just not found his footing. He's still a toolsy prospect with tons to like given his reach, speed, 200-foot game, but there's likely going to be many years of adjustment before he's an NHLer. He isn't creating offensive changes for his teammates like he was in his D+1 year this year. He's trying to do too much and ends up losing the puck because of some handling mistakes, which is one of the biggest problems with his game. Advantage HWH Sharks.
Lane Hutson vs. Cam Lund. Second pick is also not much of a competition. Lane Hutson is him. He's dynamite. He's a force for BU, and something the college hockey world wasn't expecting. He's grown an inch or two, assuaging some concerns people have over his height. I see a dynamic top four defenseman on a good team for Hutson in the future. Cameron Lund is having a bit of a resurgent season so far for Northeastern, with 8 points in his first 7 games, but I just don't see the high-level skill someone like Hutson has. Still he's an ideal size winger with some pro tools. There's runway there for him as well. I'm going advantage HWH Sharks here though.
Mattias Hävelid vs. Calle Odelius is an interesting debate. On the one hand, Odelius's solid transitional play and frame, as well as his skating made him one of the last cuts from Islanders training camp. On the other, he hasn't exactly found an offensive game at any level since he was drafted by the Islanders, bouncing around levels in Sweden. Hävelid has also struggled to produce, with only 6 points in 17 SHL games this year. Still, having watched both, I think I like Hävelid just a tiny bit more right now. I think there's a ceiling there that's higher than Odelius, even if Calle is a tiny bit more likely to make the NHL. Advantage San Jose Sharks.
Michael Fisher vs. Danny Zhilkin. Really tough to judge too much of Fisher given how much injury trouble he's had since being drafted. Still he's not particularly advanced in how he creates offense right now and when I've watched him he's mostly just been...there I guess? Zhilkin has 4 points in his first 9 AHL games this year. His offense hasn't taken off like I thought it might. He's not developed a layered offensive game. Still time to go though, and his development is not nearly as rocky as Fisher's so advantage HWH Sharks.
Beaupit vs. Guindon is pretty much an overkill. Beaupit has gone from WHL backup to now a BCHL goaltender in his draft+2 year, and still can't get over a 0.900 sv%. He's looked well....bad... when I've watched him. I'm not super high on his chances to find NHL success given he hasn't even found Major Junior success. Usual disclaimer of goalies are voodoo, etc. etc. Guindon has improved his offensive output slightly every year, even if he hasn't impressed in the Canadiens offseason camps, etc. He's an intelligent forward but I do think he might struggle once he comes over to the AHL. Still he's a much better chance at 108th overall than Beaupit is right now. Advantage HWH Sharks.
Fabian Wagner vs. Jake Furlong. I would have said maybe Wagner last year given his strong WJC-20's last season, but his offense just hasn't progressed. He's got a possible future in the NHL as a fourth-line grinder type though, given how aggressive he can be on the forecheck and how defensively responsible he is as well. I like the pick, but I am a little less impressed with his 2 points in 17 SHL games this year. Furlong has stood tall as the #1D and captain this year for a powerhouse Mooseheads team. His offensive production is fine, but his team up front is so strong that he doesn't have to be too creative to get the production he is. He's improving little by little offensively, and his defensive game took a big leap throughout last year. He has the occasional bone-headed rush/turnover that needs to be cleaned up. I think he has a legit shot as a bottom-pairing role in the NHL some day. Advantage San Jose Sharks.
Petrovsky vs. Muldowney. Didn't see it then, don't see it now for Muldowney. He's not particularly good at anything to a high enough level to warrant signing him out of college, unless massive improvement occur during his time at UConn. He's got some decent shooting mechanics, and can find soft areas to get shots off, but the majority of his game stops at failed rush attempts and invisibility. I'll catch more games of his, but the one I watched earlier this season was just not impressive. Petrovsky hasn't progressed as much as I'd have hoped since seeing him in his draft year. Still he's a PPG forward in the OHL, with a very young birthdate. He had some good moments for Slovakia at the U20s last year, but his frame needs more muscle. Either way, his odds at making the show are higher than Muldowney's so I'm giving the advantage to HWH Sharks for now.
Avery Hayes vs. Eli Barnett. Honestly really hard to even have to pick a winner from this one, but I'm taking the win since Hayes is at least in the AHL and Barnett is just now starting his NCAA career after multiple BCHL seasons. Based on counting stats alone it's far more like Hayes makes the NHL than Barnett, but I could see the argument that maybe the 6'6" guy on skates might make it over the peripheral small winger who hasn't adjusted to AHL play. I dunno. Barnett has looked okay I guess in limited minutes in the NCAA. He's just going to be a tree on skates, and if he makes a career out of that, sweet. Alright fine, I'm calling it a tie. Both are not great picks, but I did like Hayes in the OHL. So much fun. Tie.
Rodwin Dionicio vs. Reese Laubach. Oh yeah, this is a win for HWH Sharks. Dionicio was passed over in the 2022 draft, but I saw the talent back then enough to take him here with the last pick. He's a shaky at best skater, but his offensive mind from the wall and point, and off the rush is impressive. He has absolutely exploded to a >PPG defenseman in the OHL since being traded to Windsor. He got picked up in the 2023 draft as an overager to the Ducks in the 5th round. Many, many flaws with his game, but this is a really good pick in the 7th round. Laubach to his credit has 4 points in his first 10 games in the NCAA. He has not impressed me in the USHL games I caught of him last year, but admittedly I need to watch him play at his current level. He's been behind the play at a lot of the Sharks offseason rookie camps, and I don't entirely know what his game is at the next level. He's a watch and wait like Muldowney. Advantage HWH Sharks.
Alright so out of the 9 picks in the 2022 draft, the HWH Sharks are currently 6-2-1 in the advantage count by my estimation. I think there's a real chance that Kulich and Hutson can become top of the lineup players, whereas I don't see that same realistic chance of any of the Sharks picks being top 6/top 4 guys. Possibly Bystedt, Lund or Havelid but much, much more time is needed.
2023 NHL Entry Draft
4th Overall - Matvei Michkov
26th Overall - Quentin Musty
36th Overall - Lukas Dragicevic
71st Overall - Jayden Perron
123rd Overall - Luca Cagnoni
130th Overall - Matthew Mania
132nd Overall - Tomas Suchanek
196th Overall - Connor Levis
203rd Overall - Matthew Soto
San Jose Sharks
4th Overall - Will Smith
26th Overall - Quentin Musty
36th Overall - Kasper Halttunen
71st Overall - Brandon Svoboda
123rd Overall - Luca Cagnoni
130th Overall - Axel Landen
132nd Overall - Eric Pohlkamp
196th Overall - David Klee
203rd Overall - Yegor Rimashevskiy
Matvei Michkov vs. Will Smith. Oh boy. This is the big one huh? Full disclosure, I'm not the Sharks GM. Shocking I know. I have no idea the political ramifications of drafting Matvei Michkov, or the actual realistic chance he would suit for the Sharks. Mike Grier, seemingly, does have that knowledge. So it's hard for me to call this a win for HWH Sharks without that info...but I'm doing it anyways. Michkov is about a third of the way through the best draft+1 season in the KHL ever. He'll have two more years to hone his craft in Russia before coming over and being a star for Philadelphia if all goes according to plan. I think this draft is so deep, but Michkov is simply too good to not be included among Bedard, Fantilli and Carlsson at this stage in their developments.
Will Smith has not started poorly by any means. He has 14 points in his first 10 NCAA games. I think the optics of the top 3 being step-in NHL studs makes this look a bit worse than it is. He's still a dynamic playmaker with some excellent vision and play recognition. He just needs a lot more time, so much so that I wouldn't doubt his timeline looks kind of like Michkov's anyways. He's not hard enough to beat in the neutral zone right now to survive as a pro center at this moment. This is why he needs time I think. There are times when he can anticipate a pass and steal, which is his biggest defensive asset, the quick-strike counter from a poor pass. But, besides this he is too static trying to challenge skaters. This year I suspect he'll mostly develop his offense first. Next year will probably be about rounding out his game. Yes it sucks that he's not pro ready like Bedard, Fantilli, Carlsson, but we have to basically trust the process that his game will round itself out. In some ways he reminds me of Dylan Strome. Tons of offensive production, but it took years for him to develop a game that can survive as a center in the NHL. Hopefully I'm wrong and it comes quicker than that. He also could stand to gain a half-step in footspeed.
Either way, still going advantage HWH Sharks, because I can play in this fantasy world where Michkov was an option.
Quentin Musty vs. Quentin Musty. Heh. Tie I guess? This is the first of two picks the Sharks made that I actually copied on draft day in real-time. Musty was exactly the type of swing the Sharks needed to make this late in the first round. Musty has a great base of puck-skills and playmaking, along with a 6'2" frame that I think will fast-track him into the NHL. It might still be a year or two, but I think he steps in pretty quick. He's intelligent, and his vision stands out every game. He can be inconsistent at times, especially in his physical play, but when he does lean into his physicality, he can be really special. I'm excited about his development, and he's started with 14 points in 10 games, but I suspect many, many more multi-point efforts to come this year for Sudbury. Tie.
Kasper Halttunen vs. Lukas Dragicevic. It's still early, but it's a bit funny that both of these players seem like powerplay pieces rather than every-shift guys. Halttunen has just lit up the OHL since coming over from Finland, mostly from Ovechkin's office on the PP. He does need to develop a more nuanced game, trying to use the threat of his shot to create rather than just hammering constantly. Ovi is a master of this. He'll swing then feather a pass to a sweeping teammate for an easy tap-in. I want Halttunen to really use this time in the OHL, however long, to not just hammer PP shots, as fun as it is. Dragicevic hasn't started out particularly well after his stellar draft year. He's only got 9 points in his first 16 games, and I think most of those are on the powerplay. He's got to improve his footspeed or else he has a legit shot to bust before he even really gets a chance to showcase a smart playmaking mind, and stellar point shot. With how they've started, I'm giving the advantage to the Sharks.
Brandon Svoboda vs. Jayden Perron. Perron has started with 5 goals in his first 10 NCAA games. Not terrible for an undersized freshman. He has been trying some of his nifty playmaking tricks at this level, but it isn't really working. He's got skills though, and with a few years in college I suspect he's going to be just fine. Svoboda has 4 points in 11 games in the USHL in mostly a depth role. I'm not writing off his pro chances, because he really does project as a fourth line shutdown center at the next level, but it is mostly impossible to make even that level without showing you can work to the top of the lineup in juniors. He's just simply not very dynamic with the puck. The majority of his offense is from around the net or turnovers. I worry about his pro aspirations without stepping up this area of his game. I'm giving the advantage to the HWH Sharks, but it is really early.
Luca Cagnoni vs. Luca Cagnoni. Heh. Hehehe. I don't think words can describe the giddiness I had when the Sharks drafted Cagnoni. I had him as high as #34 on my draft ranking last year. When he was still there, I auto-slammed picked Cagnoni at #123. Both myself and the Sharks are looking like geniuses here. He's small, but that should not cause people to write him off. He's patient with the puck, and uses superior footwork and smart passing to tactically tear apart opposing teams. He's going to continue to develop in the WHL until he's stepping into an NHL lineup one day. Don't worry about his size. Tie.
Axel Landen vs. Matthew Mania. Well this one is tough. Mania has been injured to start the year. He should be back soon. Obviously at the time I liked Mania above Landen. I have however watched a fair number of Landen games since, and I have come away impressed. He's been up in the SHL this season, and despite no points, he hasn't looked terribly out of place in his 16 games. He's a positional defender who can lay the body when he needs to, but overall plays a simple, effective defensive game. His offense is mostly nonexistent, but does have a decent point shot when he gets that chance. I'm giving the advantage to the Sharks for now, but if Mania pops off when he comes back this might change.
Tomas Suchanek vs. Eric Pohlkamp. It's been a weird road for Suchanek. I took him here because I was convinced he was going to be drafted around that area, given how many goalies were dropping near this round, and how good of a WHL and international season he had. He's still excellent. He had a fantastic training camp with the Ducks. He has since been assigned to the ECHL for Anaheim's affiliate, the Tulsa Oilers. He has played really well there, including 3 games in three nights from 11/9-11/11 in which he posted a .952, a .929, and a .933 in those games. He's mostly just stuck behind a crowded depth chart in Anaheim, with the expectation that he'll be signed to an ELC at the end of the season. I like him, but I am also aware of how unlikely it is for small goaltenders to make the NHL. He's got a hell of a better shot than Beaupit though, so I still don't know why the Sharks don't just grab him out from the Ducks given he's on this weird quasi-contract currently. Anyways...all that is to say the advantage here goes to the Sharks. Pohlkamp is a legit player and one that flew under my radar as an overager. He's got an outside shot to make the USA WJC team this year, coming off an excellent WJSS this summer. His NCAA start has been good, with 6 points in 10 games. His shot is his weapon going forward, plus decent activation and offensive instincts. He reminds me of Havelid.
Connor Levis vs. David Klee. Look, Klee is an interesting blend of tools. He has good size, good hands, and can make some quick-hitting plays at the USHL level. I don't think his skating is particularly good, and I don't think he's got a very high ceiling overall. He's started off decently with 9 points in 16 games in the USHL. I watched a game of his this year, and mostly was impressed by some good handling skills, but found his decision making to be slow. Connor Levis is still the superior pick this late in the draft. He's maintaining about a PPG at the WHL level this year. He's still pretty slow. He's still not found that next level that I think is there with him. He's got a decent set of hands and playmaking talent that I think could really bloom with more time in juniors. Advantage HWH Sharks.
Matthew Soto vs. Yegor Rimashevsky. Soto went undrafted, but I'd still pick him here. He's got 14 points in 18 games in the OHL. He's still doing Soto things, and can be an absolute pest to deal with sometimes. The problem is he's not consistent, and his effort can sag. When he's on he can absolutely score clutch goals, create from stealing pucks, but it's not always there. This is an ideal 7th round pick for me. Room to grow if he becomes more consistent. Rimashevsky isn't entirely dissimilar, but he's also just very disinterested in the defensive zone. He's bounced around levels from the KHL to MHL this year, and has ridden the bench plenty in the KHL, which is to be expected for a young forward. He has not produced very well in the brief MHL time. He's got skills and size, and that's never a better gamble, but he really does seem like a longshot for many reasons. I'm calling this a tie, but we'll see how their seasons end up.
Alright so this one comes out to 3-3-3 by my count. As expected, it's still pretty tight as no one, aside from Michkov, has really popped off to stardom level from either team. Great starts from Musty and Cagnoni really help both prospect pools. Pohlkamp and Landen are good depth finds. This brings the final count, as of Fall 2023 to 9-5-4 for the HWH Sharks.
Thanks for reading! Let me know here or on Twitter what you think!