The 2022 NHL Draft is just weeks away. After the San Jose Sharks cemented their position at 11th overall, all eyes were on who they planned to pick. After all, 11th overall offers plenty of high-end possibilities. However, while getting a guaranteed superstar is always a great feeling, there is something even more special about finding a player in the later rounds who exceeds all expectations.
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Tons of draft-eligible players fall through the cracks every year. Scouts can’t do much to predict player development, leading to many players being picked late and making everyone regret letting them down. With the expected depth of the 2022 draft, the Sharks have plenty of options for players they could nab with a late pick. If they’re lucky, they might find the next iteration of Joe Pavelsky.
The United States Hockey League (USHL) is often a league with a mixed bag of potential talent. Although they are considered the best junior hockey league in the United States, many of their players are selected in later rounds due to less talent compared to Canadian junior hockey leagues. However, they have plenty of players with decent talent. One such player who has yet to be drafted is Stephen Halliday.
Halliday has been a member of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL for several years, but recently reached his potential when he finished first overall in the 2018 USHL Phase 1 Draft. He had 95 points in 62 games. this season, which placed him second in the league in points. Along with his point totals, Halliday is a big body, but his speed is way above what you would expect from someone of his stature.
At some point during his draft eligibility, Halliday had to potentially make the first round. However, he ended up not only falling from the first round, but also from the repechage. As he approaches his 20s, this is his last chance for a team to secure his rights. There’s a lot of risk associated with him, but the Sharks could catch a gem that’s proven he can score. He would absolutely be worth the late-round pick if he lived up to what he’s done this year in the USHL.
Unlike the USHL, it’s hard for players to go unnoticed in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). That said, it’s far from impossible. One player who seems to have done the trick is Windsor Spitfires forward Matt Maggio. This season, he has amassed 85 points in 66 games. However, Maggio is not expected to reach an exceptionally high level in the upcoming draft, despite being well above a points-per-game player.
Maggio is a fantastic goalscorer. Of his 85 points this season, 38 were goals. However, it’s not terribly difficult to see why he managed to drop so far down the draft standings. His point totals in the 2019-20 season were mediocre at best and he spent last season with SK Lejon in the HockeyEttan league. While his point totals were good there, the pandemic completely derailed the scouting process around the world. Now that his point totals have reversed, he will certainly catch the eye of more scouts.
The Sharks have plenty of forwards, but it’s hard to find someone with Maggio’s goalscoring ability. They have plenty of excellent playmakers and prospects in both directions, and adding more goalscoring prospects to the core could boost the play of everyone around him. Maggio’s draft position is far from set in stone, but if he falls into the hands of the Sharks, they should shoot him.
One of the most interesting stories surrounding the Sharks’ prospects is the resurgence of goaltenders. What was once one of their weakest prospecting areas now has a few names with decent potential. However, the Sharks don’t have a guaranteed starting goalie going forward. Therefore, having a talented goalie like Daniel Hauser in this year’s draft could be another element in finding the next goalie.
Hauser has posted a .914 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average in 40 games with the Winnipeg Ice of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this year. However, what makes his numbers stand out even more is that he has won 34 of the 38 games he has played. For the Sharks, having a goaltender who was only a few games away from a perfect season would do wonders for core goaltending. It’s unclear where Hauser will end up going in the draft, but a goalie with his skills would be great for the Sharks.
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It’s hard to predict which late picks will pay off in spades. After all, there’s a reason why players are picked so late and not in the upper rounds. However, late draft picks are always a high-risk, high-reward scenario. The Sharks could use whatever support they can get from their subsequent selections. Maybe they could find several future NHL players in this year’s draft if they’re lucky enough.
Andrew Stille is a freelance writer for THW who is currently studying journalism and communications at university. Additionally, he is a dedicated NHL content creator who seeks to grow and learn daily. Andrew is a trusted source for all things San Jose sharks and strives to create fun and exciting articles for all readers.
Other contributions include: Puck Prose and PuckEmpire.com
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