The 2014 NHL Entry Draft is 11 days away and the Wild are looking to find that next NHL star to raise their franchise to the next level. Hockey Wilderness is counting down the days with a daily mock draft. We are at pick number 20 today.
The San Jose Sharks have been a perennial powerhouse in the Western Conference with ten straight years of post-season play. Unfortunately, they've only made it to the Western Conference Final three times and have never won it. They are coming into the offseason looking to make changes to finally get them over the hump. It starts at the June NHL Entry Draft.
Even with 10 straight playoff appearances, the Sharks have been able to reload, rather than rebuild. By hitting on players like Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Devin Setoguchi helped them for a bit, Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels, they've been able to bring up good players to help their core players Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Even more recently we've seen some younger players Matt Nieto and Tomas Hertl the turtle makes significant contributions to the team in 2014. Hertl took the NHL by storm with 8 goals in October and made a highlight reel goal that had players and coaches around the league talking.
Outside of Matt Nieto and Tomas Hertl though, the Sharks do have Michael Brodzinksi, Eriah Hayes, and Chad Rau, all players that are one of us. Seriously though, the Sharks are high on guys like Chris Tierney, Freddie Hamilton, and Matt Tennyson. Tennyson was drafted as an offensive-defenseman but has quietly improved his defensive game. Tennyson scored 21 points on the blue line and added 3 power play goals for the Worcester Sharks. Freddie Hamilton scored 43 points for Worcester this past season which was good enough for best on the team. Attempting to prove that he can be more of a two-way threat, Hamilton was able to tally 22 goals, which also was a team-best. Tierney was the 2012 second round pick (55th overall) of the Sharks and is still a few years away from turning pro. Currently playing for the London Knights, Tierney was able to pot 40 goals and 49 assists in the 2013-14 campaign. According to Hockey's Future, he will likely see more of an expanded offensive role in 2014-15 as some of the older vets look to be NHL bound.
David Pastrnak is a Czech native currently playing for Sodertalje in Sweden. He's a right-handed shooting right wing and loves to carry the puck. Sodertalje is also the same team that Carl Hagelin hails from. The 6 foot tall, 170 pound kid is deadly on the rush and likes to flash his quick hands with ease-west play as well.
From Hockey's Future:
Pastrnak is an exciting offensive player hailing from the Czech Republic who has flair and loves to be dangerous. He thrives in situations where he can carry the puck and dish it off when he feels fit. Also tends to be strongest when incorporating an east-west game while on the attack. In the offensive zone, he does like to lug the puck and fake passes and shots while searching for just the right moment to make the killer play. Maintains good control of the puck and can use his body well in protecting it. Is very agile in making his twists and turns, especially when he has the puck, and isn't afraid to try a number of things as part of the attack. Very good hands and craftiness once he has the puck, he also likes to hound opposition players, especially defensemen, in forcing turnovers, ready to pounce on them in hopes of creating two-on-one or breakaway situations. In addition, his shot has improved in leaps and bounds since coming to Sweden and can be lethal from all over, particularly when using opponents as a screen.
Pastrnak is a flashy, electrifying offensive talent with gifted hands and shiftiness in his feet. He also has a bullet shot and is a very dangerous finisher. He uses quickness and good lateral elusiveness to avoid bigger opponents.
Pastrnak ended up 5th overall on Central Scouting's list of top European Skaters. The kid will likely need to gain weight and grow into his frame, as this sometimes leaves him on the short end of puck battles.
How He Fits the Wild
The Wild have been slotted in some mock draft to picking this kid. He is electric by all accounts. He'd be a reason to show up to the annual Prospect Development Camp scrimmage in July. However, the Wild are not concerned what he'd do in practice. He's a guy that enjoys having the puck on his stick and will do most anything to keep the puck on his stick. For a team trying to put their name into the throes of the other possession dominant Western Conference teams, a shifty, electric player that doesn't like to give up the puck could be just what the Wild need.
Pastrnak has the potential to be a big-time scorer and the Wild are always going to be in need of goal scoring.