NHL Draft

How scouts assess, grade Sharks' 2023 NHL Draft class

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What were NHL scouts thinking as the Sharks made their 10 picks in the 2023 NHL Draft?

San Jose Hockey Now asked three NHL scouts from outside the San Jose organization for their thoughts and grades.

No. 4 overall selection Will Smith is a potential top-of-the-lineup 6-foot center.

"High-end skill, high-end offensive brain, very creative," Scout No. 1 told San Jose Hockey Now in May. “First shot sniper, can wire pucks on net, can make high-end plays. Can do it with pace.”

No. 26 overall pick Quentin Musty is a 6-foot-2 winger who can throw his size and skill around.

"Dangerous offensive threat," Scout No. 2 told San Jose Hockey Now. "Can pass or shoot. Real dangerous shot. Plays hard, had a few fights this year. Actually injured himself fighting [fellow first-rounder Calum] Ritchie this year. Hurt his hand. Can be a little moody though. Inconsistent, but tons of talent."

Scout No. 3 is a fan: "I know teams were looking to trade up for Musty."

No. 36 overall selection Kasper Halttunen is another hulking winger, standing at 6-foot-3 and armed with a big shot.

"Killer shot. Pretty individualistic," Scout No. 2 offered. "But high-end tools, in terms of size, skating, and shot. Can score from anywhere."

"He's out of shape," Scout No. 3 said bluntly. "If he gets his off-ice training in shape, he has potential to become a goal-scoring power winger. Lacks playmaking ability.

"I thought they reached for Halttunen."

The Sharks traded up with the Carolina Hurricanes to grab 6-foot-3 center Brandon Svoboda at No. 71, parting with their No. 94 and No. 100 picks in the process.

This was regarded in some circles as something of a reach, as these three scouts had nothing much to say about Svoboda.

Even Sharks director of scouting Chris Morehouse recognized, "We had an opportunity where we could get aggressive and get a player that we value higher than maybe others and where he's supposed to go. In a case like Brandon, we felt like he wasn't going to be there very much longer."

Morehouse added: "A lot of untapped potential there."

If Svoboda might be seen as a reach at No. 71, 5-foot-9 defenseman Luca Cagnoni, thought by some to be a second-round talent, was certainly a value pick at No. 123.

"Really smart. Offensive talent," Scout No. 1 said. "Plays hard for a little guy as well. Good vision and puck movement. Great shot. Just can struggle to defend due to size and reach. Can be a little passive defensively."

Seven picks later, the Sharks selected 6-foot-1 defenseman Axel Landen from Sweden.

"I'm not a fan of Landen," Scout No. 3 admitted.

"We see his size and strength, he loves to be physical," Morehouse said.

Scout #2 was along the same lines: “Not the smartest player, not much skill, but he’s big and he can skate.”

At No. 132, San Jose went with another blueliner, 5-foot-10 Eric Pohlkamp, who was skipped in last year’s draft.

"Our scouts loved him," Morehouse said. "When you get to these certain spots in the draft, you're looking for any types of edge in terms of how well you know kids, the amount of work that they're going to put into it, the type of character."

Finally, the Sharks selected 6-foot-3 center David Klee at No. 196 and 6-foot-2 winger Yegor Rimashevskiy at No. 203.

"He's a guy we kind of targeted in this later round, just because the production offensively maybe wasn't there this year," Morehouse shared of Klee, who had just 13 points in 57 games in his rookie USHL campaign. "Big, strong kid. Great character.

"He's a project and in a good way."

Scouts outside of the Sharks organization really liked the Rimashevskiy pick, especially where San Jose grabbed the Belarussian.

"Rimashevsky is a skinny, tall, and skilled kid," Scout No. 2 said. "Little soft. But intelligent, playmaker, good 200-foot game. Just a little soft and inconsistent. Had a tough injury that kind of blew up his year."

Scout No. 3 agreed: "Rimashevsky in the seventh is a fine bet."

So how did this scout grade the Sharks’ 2023 draft?

"I liked Smith and Musty where they took them in the first," Scout No. 3 offered. "Probably a B-minus as a whole, maybe."

Scout #2 liked what the Sharks did more: “Thought Sharks got a solid B+ or even an A. Smith, Musty, and Halttunen are great picks. Cagnoni and Landen are great to take a mid-round swing on too.”

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