Ranking Sharks' top 10 prospects of 2022-23 season

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What a difference a year makes.

Before the beginning of the 2021-22 NHL season, I unveiled San Jose Hockey Now’s list for the top-10 Sharks prospects.

They were, in order: William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Artemi Kniazev, Tristen Robins, Santeri Hatakka, Ryan Merkley, Danil Gushchin, Ben Gaudreau, and Jonathan Dahlen.

There has been a ton of upheaval since then.

Merkley, the Sharks' 2018 first-round pick, has been traded and Dahlen went back to Sweden.

There’s a new general manager (Mike Grier), director of player personnel (Scott Fitzgerald), director of scouting (Chris Moreland), and director of amateur scouting (Stephane Leblanc) replacing Doug Wilson, Doug Wilson Jr. and Tim Burke at the head of the Sharks’ draft table. There was an infusion of prospects from outgoing director of scouting Wilson Jr.’s last draft in 2022.

So, I thought February marked a good time to take stock of all the changes and unveil SJHN’s 2022-23 top-10 Sharks prospects, midseason edition.

I vetted my list with multiple NHL sources and have included some of their comments.

10) Artemi Kniazev

While the 2019 second-round pick’s offense hasn’t popped this season -- he has just two goals and 12 assists in 40 games with the San Jose Barracuda -- I’m told the blueliner’s defensive game has improved leaps and bounds.

“He’s not in as many offensive roles as he was last year,” a scout told SJHN, “but his overall game is much better.”

Kniazev should challenge for an NHL job next season, the final year of his entry-level contract.

9) Gannon Laroque

The 2021 fourth-rounder enjoyed a breakout campaign last season, leading Victoria Royals defensemen with 52 points in 63 games. He was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior summer selection camp, and my guess, he would’ve made the roster of the 2023 World Juniors gold medalists.

Laroque, however, has only played four games this year, derailed by hip surgery last summer. He made his season debut in January but has missed the last month with an unrelated lower-body injury.

The Sharks still like the 6-foot-2 rearguard’s potential, though an outside NHL source noted, “I would be concerned with the skating.”

8) Jake Furlong

The 2022 fifth-round pick was a revelation at Sharks Development Camp, and the two-way defenseman has continued along that path with a solid campaign for the Halifax Mooseheads.

“We were too low on him,” an NHL source said, “he’s a good player.”

7) Danil Gushchin

The 2020 third-rounder has flashed in his pro debut, notching 11 goals and 13 assists in 46 games for the Barracuda. And he already has an NHL memory, scoring a hat trick in a preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The slick playmaker’s vision has translated from juniors to pro, we’ll see if the 5-foot-10 winger can take another step next year.

6) Tristen Robins

The 2020 second-round pick has a solid 10 goals and 10 assists in 41 games in his pro debut for the Barracuda.

The 5-foot-11 center’s tenacity and skill are a promising combo if they translate up.

5) Cam Lund

The 2022 second-rounder has been a solid contributor as a freshman for a competitive Northeastern squad with 19 points in 29 games.

The 6-foot-2 winger was also invited to USA’s 2023 World Junior selection camp, just missing the cut.

Originally, I actually had Robins and Gushchin ahead of Lund, but one source was so high on the 18-year-old, I had to boost him up.

4) Mattias Havelid

We missed out not seeing the injured 2022 second-round pick skate for Sweden at World Juniors.

“Havelid would have been great,” a scout told SJHN.

But the 5-foot-10 Havelid seems recovered from his back issue and is playing steady minutes for Linköping HC over the last month, an impressive achievement for a 19-year-old in a top men’s league.

He’s the Sharks’ top prospect on the blueline.

3) Filip Bystedt

I see the Sharks’ top-10 prospects as a top-three, then four prospects in the middle layer.

“He’s definitely top-three,” a scout told SJHN.

That’s the kind of leap the 2022 first-rounder has made, highlighted by an outstanding WJCs.

“Thought he was their best forward,” the scout said about the 6-foot-4 center’s performance for Sweden. “Long-term project, but he’s already showing that upside. Has 2C upside. Showed his speed and offensive upside for a center of that size.”

2) Thomas Bordeleau

The 2020 second-round pick is second among AHL rookies with 19 goals.

The AHL All-Star has emphasized his shot more this season, to add to some of the creativity that we saw in the NHL last year. There’s still puck management issues, but the skill is NHL-caliber.

RELATED: Meier hasn't been approached by other team for extension

It’s just a matter of time before the Sharks call up the deceptively strong 5-foot-10 center.

Could he be San Jose’s second-line center of the future?

1) William Eklund

The 2021 first-rounder remains the top Sharks prospect.

The clever Swede playmaker had added noticeable muscle to his 5-foot-11 frame this season, which will serve him well whenever he graduates full-time to the NHL.

It should be soon: The winger is third among AHL rookies with 36 points.

Scouts tell me that it’s between Eklund and Bordeleau as to which Barracuda prospect is more NHL-ready.

But Eklund’s got a little more upside.

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