Focus Forward: Sharks Rookie Faceoff Takeaway on Eklund, Bordeleau and More

The San Jose Sharks loved a feeding frenzy to start out Rookie Faceoff, however issues went south yesterday afternoon with the Los Angeles Kings.

On Friday, the Sharks topped the Anaheim Geese 3-2 with a William Ecklund OT purpose. San Jose adopted up that subsequent evening by hitting the Colorado Avalanche 5-1.

Monday afternoon proved to be a nap for the sharks, because the Kings shut them out 3-0 within the match closing.

No worry although – general, he is been a profitable debutante face for the San Jose Sharks prospects. Plenty of scouts have commented on the rising tide of younger sharks’ expertise, in comparison with previous tournaments.

Listed below are my notes from the match, together with San Jose Barracuda coach John McCarthy, assistant coach Kyle Hagel, and NHL scouts’ ideas on William Ecklund, Thomas Bordello, Tristan Robbins, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Ethan Cardwell, Mitchell Russell, and extra.

Let’s speak ahead first, then I am going to add some notes about defenders and goalkeepers later.

An important issues first. Whereas the San Jose Sharks have introduced extra expertise than ever earlier than to the Junior Championships, I spoke with a number of NHL sources who watched the occasion that did not see anybody clearly NHL-ready among the many group. Sure, meaning William Ecklund, Thomas Bordello, Ryan Merkley, Santeri Hatake, you title it. Anyway, it is a unhealthy signal should you’re relying on odds from the Junior Championships to be in your NHL roster within the fall – nevertheless it type of looks as if the under-skilled sharks depend on.

That is to not say Eklund hasn’t improved over the summer season – he did, he regarded stronger after gaining seven kilos of muscle, with out dropping any of his skate items or attacking – however I warning he is been penciling in his opening evening squad but. I do know, I did it myself.

Predict the opening evening menu for sharks

It was Eklund himself, although, who began gradual at Rookie Faceoff final 12 months in Arizona earlier than gaining momentum in pre-season to earn a spot on the roster with the San Jose Sharks to start out final season. So I am not signing up for any prospect or getting anybody off the NHL roster but.

That is what Eklund is all about right here, instance of his rising energy and still-dribbling and hockey IQ.

Ecklund (72) rocks 6-foot-3 Drew Hilson (43), flatters Olin Zellweger (51), and takes benefit of a 2-in-1 protection to search out open man Scott Reddy (54). With extra time and area, Reddy can simply discover Santeri Hatakka (61) strolling into the opening for a golden alternative.

It was thrilling to see the sharks use the Eklund within the excessive aperture within the energy play. It is a extra bodily scenario in PP, you’re taking a number of penalty, and it is an space the place you are pressured to shoot as nicely, which talks in regards to the areas they need the smaller wing to enhance in.

“It was all good,” Eklund laughed on the elevated visitors he encountered on the Tech CU Area over the weekend.

“I assumed his shot regarded higher when he got here again this 12 months,” McCarthy stated. “And I do know we labored on it quite a bit over the summer season. So he positively understood the message there and labored on it. I assumed his launch was quicker and acquired a bit of quicker within the tweaks too.”

Final 12 months, Eklund was used solely alongside the wall within the energy play, in recognition of his game-making means, but in addition an indication that the sharks have been making an attempt to guard the 19-year-old rookie.

Talking of energy play, I assumed it was attention-grabbing that sharks hardly ever use the touchdown lane to hack PP whereas going through Rookie Faceoff. I am undecided if Brian Wiseman and Scott Gordon’s assault is being phased out, or only a coincidence.

Hagel cautioned towards studying an excessive amount of into the Sharks’ Rookie Faceoff techniques: “We have given these guys a bit of hulk and a bit of hulk simply to allow them to assist them, and so they’ve acquired one thing to depend on once they’re there. However our general message this weekend was extra mindset than programs.” And the mentality simply must be aggressive.”

An NHL scout referred to as Bordeleau a top-five participant on this match, however he was poorly praised, considerably.

One other matter of debate this previous weekend was that this rookie did not have as many high-end expertise prepared within the NHL because the earlier posts. Final 12 months, for instance, NHL’ers Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, Alex Newhook, Bowen Byram, Arthur Kaliyev and Sean Durzi participated. Scouts aren’t positive that this 12 months’s Rookie Faceoff will graduate like many on the spot NHL regulars.

Chatting with Bordeleau, McCarthy identified: “Specifically [with] The best way the sharks wish to play is to play inside, get into the web, and get into these excessive visitors areas. I believe he is very, excellent at getting folks prepared and dealing on the periphery, and I believe if we are able to get him contained in the factors and make the performs there, I believe that can result in extra success for him. And we talked to him about that, too.”

Staying with the second spherical of 2020, the identical drawback with puck administration that I noticed in an NHL espresso cup was evident throughout this up-and-coming match as nicely.

One scout jogged my memory although: “They will be within the AHL, they’re going to be stripped bare, the coach tweets it, then does not do it once more. You must study that from expertise, you do not wish to prepare participant creativity, give them a while to study what works and what does not. “.

I believe this scout is correct on each counts: On the one hand, you need Bordeleau to be Bordeleau, however studying shortly in one of the best league on the earth won’t be advisable.

Talking of one other little center man, Tristen Robbins flashed this spherical, exhibiting off some drive, velocity and talent. I’m wondering how the 5-foot-10 heart would deal with defensively on the larger ranges, however I have been reminded by scouts that Robins are quick and powerful sufficient to beat larger gamers. It is onerous to gauge towards comparatively low-key competitors from Rookie Faceoff, however we’ll see how that works out within the AHL’s 2020 second-round decide this 12 months.

Additionally of observe is how the sharks use robots closely within the Showdown circuit and on PK on this match. Clearly, these are vital abilities for Robbins so as to add to his portfolio. I discover it attention-grabbing to notice that Robins received solely 49% of their raffles final 12 months with the Saskatoon Blades, which signifies that the sector is an actual enterprise in progress.

Talking of one other decide for 2020, I’m wondering if first-rounder Ozzy Wiesblatt has kind of settled down? It suits with what I’ve heard from the Prince Albert group, the place there was some disappointment that Wiesblatt did not step up his recreation final 12 months with the Raiders. Wiesblatt confirmed the identical velocity and edge right here that made it a lovely alternative for sharks a few years in the past, however we’ll see the way it improves with the Cuda.

Lastly, fourth-placed Brandon Koe in 2020 began gradual for me, with velocity points and never taking part in quick sufficient within the opening recreation, however I cherished his effort towards the avalanche. One scout agreed, noting that Coe seems to be extra of a complementary participant than a play driver. He is an enormous man with some velocity and talent, however it might take some time for him to place collectively on the professional degree.

“I believe he has a bit of bit of labor to do creating this base for his recreation. We talked to him about placing the brakes in good ice as a substitute of swinging. He is very quick, and he needs to maintain his velocity. However I believe if he can hit the brakes generally In a few of these areas, I believe he’d be in higher positions to play. “He is on his approach to having a protracted profession,” McCarthy stated of Coe.

Together with Ecklund, Ethan Cardwell was the fourth-placed within the 2021 San Jose Sharks group choice who appeared right here. Cardwell demonstrated breakaway tempo on a number of events, though he failed to complete. A fair larger concern, and why I believe it is perhaps a good suggestion for the 20-year-old to come back again for his surplus season with Barrie Colts, was he wanting a bit of gentle in there, really easy to eliminate. Not for lack of effort, give it some thought, however may he spend one other 12 months getting his physique prepared for skilled hockey?

Right here Cardwell (56) is preventing for the middle towards 6-foot-6, 22-year-old Andre Lee.

I cherished that kill effort from Mitchell Russell (64) in dropping to the Kings, sufficient to lure him into Francesco Benelli (38) after which keep away from him, then put the disc again in to kill extra time.

Russell seems to be an attention-grabbing prospect, not a excessive ceiling however ought to play within the NHL.

McCarthy had phrase about Josh Lawrence’s demo towards the Avs, and the coach improved it by lifting Lawrence to the second line on the finish.

“I have been utilizing him in a face off. He isn’t an enormous participant however he performs inside, performs the fitting method, works over pucks. I used to be impressed with what he did,” McCarthy stated.

However truthfully, in a recreation the place the sharks have been onerous to impress the assault, I have never seen a lot of a QMJHL star towards the Kings.

Nonetheless, Hagel stated of Lawrence after the loss: “He skates rather well. I like his demeanor across the room, simply type of getting on together with his work. As a person central, I believe he is very accountable, not dishonest on offense. It is positively an attention-grabbing prospect” .

It would not be shocking to see sharks or barracudas extending Lawrence’s contract.

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