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Doug Wilson’s Recent History With Drafting

Hello all.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Andy Man. Also known as @Bleedingteal. I’ve been a long time Sharks fan, and occasionally contribute as a guest writer here at Teal Town USA.

After reading through Kevin Kurz’s article posted to The Athletic (paywall) on Christmas Eve which touched on just a few of the draft problems the Sharks have had in recent years, I wanted to expand into more detail on those years and then some by exploring who we drafted, what picks we traded, and who we missed out on to better inform some newer members of Teal Town USA and the Sharks fan base. As well as some who haven’t paid much attention to the draft and the results over the last several years. First, let’s dive into the picks taken between 2013 and 2016. 

In those 4 drafts between 2013 and 2016, the Sharks made 29 picks in total. Of those 29, 2 have played over 200 games. Those 2 being Timo Meier in 2015 (#9 overall, 2015) and Kevin Labanc (#171 overall, 2014). Both are solid picks and there is very little to complain about between them. Or at least that’s what it looks like on the surface. Meier, who is the best pick the Sharks made in those 4 lotteries, I wouldn’t consider being a great pick for Doug Wilson and the franchise. Here is why. 

Meier was #9 overall (231 games, 130 pts), as I just mentioned. So who was picked #10 overall? Just some guy named Mikko Rantanen (260 games, 234 points). #14 overall? Jake DeBrusk (171 games, 103 points). #16? Matthew Barzal (201 games, 179 points). #17? Kyle Connor (215 games, 161 points). #18? Thomas Chabot (172 games, 102 points). How about #22? Up and coming goalie Ilya Samoynov (13 games, 2.39 & .914%). #23? Brock Boeser (178 games, 154 points). #24? Travis Konecny (267 games, 167 points).

As you can see, even the most successful and consistent statistical pick we have taken since 2013 isn’t a successful pick when compared to the guys taken after him in the first round. AND, on top of that, Meier will cost $10m a year when his contract expires after the 2022/23 season because of how arbitration works and the VERY generous contract that Doug Wilson offered and signed. But that’s deviating slightly from the point of this article.

2012

Some may argue that we had 2 great early picks in 2012 with Hertl and Tierney, and you would be right. Tierney was a key component used to obtain Erik Karlsson, whom several may argue isn’t worth what he is. But arguing that is not why I’m here right now. Aside from that, who were some of the guys picked around those 2 Sharks draft picks? Tomas Hertl @ #17 (439 games, 274 points). #18: Teuvo Teräväinen (397 games, 263 points). #19: Andrei Vasilevskiy (234 games, 2.58 & .918%). #22: Olli Maatta. #28: Brad Skjei. Chris Tierney @ 55. #60: Damon Severson. #66: Jimmy Vescey.

And none of this takes into consideration the picks we traded and who they became. For example, we sent our 2012 3rd round pick #78 overall in exchange for a 2011 #47 overall which we used to draft Matt Nieto out of Long Beach. Pretty good player. However, our #78 pick went on to become Shane Gostisbehere.

2013

In 2013 we traded up from #20 overall (along with our #58 overall in 2013) to #18 to get Mirco Mueller (158 games, 22 points). #20 became Anthony Mantha (246 games, 159 points), #58 became Tyler Bertuzzi (166 games, 101 points). This is also of note because we got 2013 #58 along with 2014 #53 overall in exchange for Douglas Murray with Pittsburgh. So the result of this transaction is we sent Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh for  2013 #18 Mirco Mueller and 2014 #53 Noah Rod (who could have been Brandon Montour {213 games, 83 points} or Christian Dvorak {215 games, 100 points} who were taken #55 and #58 respectively).

2014

In 2014 we find even more pain. We swapped our #20 & #179 with Chicago’s #27 and #62, all in the 2014 draft. The players involved didn’t end up being that significant; #20 Schmaltz, #27 Goldobin, #62 Kirkland, #179 Nalimov. However what is of note this year is the #25 pick which falls between the 2 that were swapped, David Pasternak (358 games, 338 points). To be fair, nobody foresaw what he’s doing now. But his first full season in 16-17 he posted 34g, 36a and followed that up with 35g, 45a in 17-18. That’s not an accident or anomale.

2016

In 2016, we traded #29 overall to Boston for Jones who some may or may not call a good deal with the benefit of hindsight. Considering #29 turned into Trent Frederic who has played 17 NHL games with no points, on the surface it seems like a good deal. But who was still on the board was Alex DeBrincat (202 games, 153 points) who was taken with the #39 pick. So even excluding Jones’ recent struggles, perhaps this wasn’t such a good trade.

I can go on and on like this being the case with missed draft picks. And to be fair to Doug, every team is going to have near misses like this throughout their franchise’s history. There is a lot of guessing that goes in to trades and draft picks and prospects. But to further highlight the problems our front office has in accurately assessing talent, let’s go back to Doug’s first year as GM. Summer 2003.

This was a deep draft. This was the Eric Stall (1212 games, 1005 points) draft year where 11 of the 30 First round picks ended up playing over 1000 NHL games as you can see here. That’s some insanely high odds to be drafting a borderline HoFer in the first 30 picks. We had the  #6 overall pick. A great spot to be in given the depth of talent available, only enhanced by also having the #16 overall pick. We took a very solid choice in Milan Michalek (747 games, 446 points) at 6. That’s a damn good career looking at his stats. Especially for high draft picks in that era when there was much less data available compared to today. We had a 2nd pick in the first round, #16 overall we selected Steve Bernier (637 games, 230 points). Both were damn solid picks overall in their own right that I myself loved having on the team while they were here.

But here’s the picks that came around those 2: #7: Ryan Suter (1111 games, 564 points). #9: Dion Phaneuf (1048 games, 494 points). #11: Jeff Carter (1019 games, 722 points). #13: Dustin Brown (1156 games, 637 points). #14: Brent Seabrook (1114 games, 464 points). #17: Zach Parise (984 games, 768 points). #19: Ryan Getzlaf (1019 games, 948 points). #20: Brent Burns (1081 games, 674 points). #23: Ryan Kesler (1001 games, 573 points). #28: Corey Perry (1019 games, 789 points). Imagine having any 2 of these guys instead of Michalek and Bernier. How different would our team’s history be?

Evaluation

This just goes to show that DW is not the great evaluator of talent that people believe him to be. All of this is not to say that DW isn’t a very good GM, because he is. He’s done a lot for this franchise to make it better during his tenure and he’s done so in ernest. His efforts are deserving of being recognized and appreciated.

This post is intended to highlight what I believe is the root problem of this franchise right now. The proof is there that he is not a great GM in certain aspects, and the mistakes that have been made when it comes to drafting, trading draft picks, and trading prospects during his tenure have lead us to where are now. It’s painful to read through all of this data and to see what all these years as a fan have led us to. I hate to say it, but I feel it’s time that Doug is promoted out of his role and into a team executive position as Hasso’s right hand in the US and let someone else lead the forthcoming rebuilt that is growing increasingly needed in the coming months or in the next few years. I can’t say when it’s coming exactly, but it’s definitely coming.

Here’s the data if anyone is curious:

Thank you for your time in reading. Comment below if you have any questions or wish to engage in further discussion.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. JB

    January 8, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Great read, I’ve been critical of DW’s team building since the Reverse Sweep, and probably longer. Looking at that 2003 draft alone, it seems likely we’d have a cup by now if better choices had been made at the time. Quite a few names in that list of alternates are indeed on the cup.

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