NHL Draft

NHL scouts predict who Sharks could target with No. 14 draft pick

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Editor's Note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California’s Sharks coverage. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.

There is no suspense about what the Sharks are doing with the first-overall selection of the 2024 NHL Draft, but what about their No. 14 pick?

San Jose Hockey Now spoke with four NHL scouts about four prospects who are likely to be there at No. 14, and three who probably won’t.

For more detailed scouting reports about the possible forwards and defensemen that the Sharks could be eyeing at No. 14, check out SJHN.

Should Be There?

Cole Eiserman is one of the most polarizing figures of the Draft, perhaps its best goal-scorer but with huge question marks otherwise.

“Best shot in the draft. Great instincts for scoring. A natural finisher,” Scout No. 1 said. “Everything else needs to come a long way.”

That’s putting it kindly, both on and off the ice.

“Think at the NHL, you have a below-average skating, one-dimensional shooter,” Scout No. 2 said.

“I don’t think he’s a bad kid,” Scout No. 3 said. “He’s just, he is on his own page.”

“All the negative stuff about him, I think it’s maybe spiraled a bit,” Scout No. 4 said. “So the Combine will be a good time for him to change the narrative.”

But despite Eiserman’s reported friendship with Macklin Celebrini, Scout No. 1 doesn’t think San Jose will choose the sniper: “If the Sharks took Eiserman [at No. 14], my jaw would be on the floor.”

Staying up front, the well-rounded Michael Brandsegg-Nygard might be Eiserman’s opposite.

“A power forward. Built for the playoffs,” Scout No. 1 said. “Similar to Ryan Leonard but not quite as talented.”

The 6-foot-1 winger has a solid floor, but what’s his ceiling? That’s a heated debate.

“I would be surprised if the Sharks take him. I think he’s overrated,” Scout No. 2 said. “I think he makes the NHL, but I think you’re looking at a third or fourth-line winger.”

Scout No. 3 countered: “I think the offensive game is underrated. He’s got a pretty good shot. It wouldn’t surprise me if he touches 25-30 goals at some point in his career.”

“Seems like a [high-compete] Sharks-type player,” Scout No. 4 said, “but 14 might be high for a limited ceiling guy.”

Of course, between Celebrini and Will Smith and William Eklund and Quentin Musty, you can argue that the Sharks are set up front in the future. But on defense, San Jose is missing clear-cut top-four blueliners in the system, save for Shakir Mukhamadullin.

Stian Solberg appears to be emerging as the cream of the second-tier crop of defensemen in the first round.

“The best body-checker in the draft. Think Niklas Kronwall. Size. Competitive,” Scout No. 1 rattled off. “Two-way game. Leans more defense but has some offense as well.”

“If I was doing a mock draft for the Sharks right now, I think this would be a kid that I can see them taking,” Scout No. 2 said of the 6-foot-2 blueliner.

Scout No. 4 agreed: “He does seem like the type of profile defenseman that San Jose has been trying to trade for recently.Some have had success, and others, like Okhotiuk, maybe not as much.”

Defenseman Adam Jiricek is also in the picture. The 6-foot-3 blueliner appears to be healthy after knee injuries cut his season short.

“Two-way game,” Scout No. 1 said. “Not a big hitter like Solberg but similarly competitive in other ways.”

That said, there’s concern about using a lottery pick on a player coming off such serious injuries.

“To use that high of a pick on a guy that you haven’t seen since December, that’s hard,” Scout No. 2 said. “If I had to guess, I think the Sharks pass on him, and he slips a bit.”

“I’m not sure what like the elite talent is besides good skater and passer,” Scout No. 4 said, adding, “I would have some questions on taking a torn ACL two-way puck-moving D-man when there’s probably going to be better options [at No. 14].”

Scout No. 3 thinks there’s upside there though: “He’s a pretty good all-around defenseman with size. Skates pretty well. It would be an interesting value pick.”

Could Drop? 

If 5-foot-10 Berkly Catton or 5-foot-11 Konsta Helenius drop, it’s probably because of their size. Both would be steals at No. 14.

Scout No. 2 prefers Helenius to Catton: “If he got to San Jose at 14, I would say you can’t [pass him up]. I know they’re already pretty strong down the middle with Mack and Smith.”

“A complete 200-foot center. Smart. Play-driver. Competitive,” Scout No. 1 said. “Good at everything but maybe lacks the high-end talent to become a star.”

Catton should bring more offense.

“He’s a dynamic winger,” Scout #2 said.

“If he falls, and he’s there, it’s like do we even really have a choice?” Scout No. 3 mused. “Sometimes, those guys happen. Like it’s too good a thing to pass up.”

On the blueline, Carter Yakemchuk, counted among the top-tier of defensemen in this Draft, also appears to be the most likely to fall to No. 14. 

It’s improbable, but the Sharks can dream of walking out of Sphere with a potential No. 1 center in Celebrini and a top defender in Yakemchuk.

“Some [teams] love him and then other guys are pretty down on him,” Scout No. 2 said.

“You’re getting almost a fourth forward. Really offensive, highly skilled,” Scout No. 3 said of the 30-goal scorer. “He’s got better hands than some of the forwards in the Draft.”

“The knocks on Yakemchuk?” Scout No. 2 mused of the 6-foot-3 rearguard. “You see that big size, he actually doesn’t defend all that great.”

Does Yakemchuk have some Brent Burns in him?

“His tools are exciting. He makes some blow-up [mistakes] on both sides of the puck,” Scout No. 3 said. “But he’s a really talented player.”

“There’s a lot of boom or bust there with him,” Scout No. 2 said.“But if he’s at 14, I think he’s a guy that the Sharks take.”

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