San Jose's draft philosophy seems to be evolving. Doug Wilson Jr. became responsible for making the Sharks’ selections starting in 2018 after his promotion to director of scouting and, since then, they seem to be more willing to take high-risk, high-reward players.
It started with Ryan Merkley, the 21st overall pick in 2018, when the Sharks selected the talented defenseman despite concerns around the NHL about his attitude, and it continued with 2019 second-rounder Dillon Hamaliuk. The left winger was well regarded as a capable scorer with good size in his first two WHL seasons with Seattle, but a knee injury ended his 2018-19 campaign in December and hurt his stock heading into the NHL draft a few months later.
The Sharks, though, wanted Hamaliuk despite the injury. They traded a pair of third-round picks in the 2019 draft to New Jersey for the chance to move up and select him 55th overall.
Part of the reason was they had some inside knowledge on Hamaliuk, who was medically cleared in June. Castan Sommer, the son of AHL Barracuda coach Roy Sommer, is an assistant coach at Seattle and offered favorable reviews. The Sharks interviewed Hamaliuk multiple times and even visited him at his house before deciding to be aggressive in moving up to pick him.
Hamaliuk, who now plays for WHL Kelowna, took part in the Sharks’ rookie camp and training camp before he was reassigned to major junior. “Dillon is a natural power forward,” said Wilson Jr. of the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder. “He has the natural instincts to play on the inside along with the hands and speed to play with skilled players. He plays on the first line and net-front on the (top power-play unit) in Kelowna. There aren’t many players like him out there. When you find them, you have to draft and develop them internally.
“He played very well in the rookie tournament in Anaheim, and he’s off to a great start in Kelowna.” – Kevin Kurz