How NHL scout evaluates Sharks’ potential No. 11 pick targets

NBC Sports Bay Area

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.

LAS VEGAS — The Sharks only moved up three spots, but they might be looking at a completely different 2024 NHL Draft with their trade up from No. 14 to No. 11 on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, San Jose sent the No. 14 and No. 42 picks to the Buffalo Sabres for the No. 11 pick in Friday’s first-round.

Instead of hoping that the likes of Carter Yakemchuk, Zayne Parekh, Konsta Helenius, Berkly Catton or Cole Eiserman could drop to them at No. 14, they might now be in a pole position to come out with a No. 1 center (Macklin Celebrini) and perhaps a No. 1 defenseman or No. 1 winger.

And who knows? Maybe a Zeev Buium, Sam Dickinson or someone else will fall to No. 11?

San Jose Hockey Now spoke with an NHL scout on Thursday about this higher layer of prospect, in alphabetical order, forwards Catton, Eiserman, Tij Iginla, Helenius, and Beckett Sennecke, along with defensemen Buium, Dickinson, Parekh, and Yakemchuk.

Centers Celebrini and Cayden Lindstrom, winger Ivan Demidov, and defensemen Artyom Levshunov and Anton Silayev are expected to be gone by No. 11.

Catton is a 5-foot-10 center with a high motor and dynamic offense.

The NHL scout prefers Catton to Helenius, when we’re talking about smaller offensive centers. He believes both will have some adjustment attacking, penetrating the middle of the ice in the NHL at their size, but Catton has an edge in a significant area.

“I think Catton’s skating is a bit better, it’s just that little bit that you need,” the NHL scout said.

Eiserman is a 6-foot-0 winger. He’s considered one-dimensional, but that dimension is the best shot in the 2024 draft.

However, Eiserman comes with a little baggage.

“I don’t think that he’s disliked by his teammates, as a person, guys get along with him,” the scout said. “But it’s on ice, how he carries himself and deals with his on-ice stuff. He’s just, he is on his own page.”

Iginla is a high-compete 6-foot-0 winger, son of Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. He has one of the best shots in the draft outside of Eiserman.

“I don’t know how he gets past Calgary [at No. 9],” the scout said. “He’s Eiserman that doesn’t have a bunch of BS.”

Helenius is a 5-foot-11 two-way high-compete center.

This scout prefers Catton, but noted that it was close, and Helenius was productive this past season in a men’s league, unlike Catton.

Sennecke is a 6-foot-3 winger, a late riser with a tantalizing combination of size, playmaking, handling, and shooting ability.

“I think the team that gets him is going to be very happy if they get him in this nine-to-10 range,” the scout said of the likely top-10 pick. “Slick puck skills, makes guys miss. He’s got such soft hands. Really creative.”

Buium is a 6-foot-0 defenseman, an offensive force who won the World Juniors, World U-18’s, and NCAA title this season.

“Offensive creativity,” the scout said. “Really, really good skater. High, high skill. He’s going to run your first power play.”

However, the scout thinks that Buium doesn’t really know how to defend effectively yet.

“I don’t think it’s because he chooses not to play [defense],” the scout said. “I don’t think his defensive game has been polished.”

Dickinson is a 6-foot-3 two-way defenseman, who this scout compares to a Ryan Suter.

“Steady, very smart,” the scout said. “Really good skater. Skilled, doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game. He’s as solid as a defenseman as you can get in the first round.”

Dickinson might not become a top power play defenseman, but he should be good enough for a second unit, along with being a first-choice penalty killer.

Parekh is a 6-foot-0 defenseman, similar to Buium, an offensive wizard with real defensive concerns.

Parekh is also a fabulous skater, but the scout is worried about the stubbornness in his game.

“I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t know how to play defense, because if you can get through to him that he needs to do it, in order to get the offense to go, then I think you’re fine,” the scout said.

All said, this scout prefers Parekh to Buium.

“He’s a little bit bigger and there’s a little bit more high-end creativity and skill,” the scout said.

Yakemchuk is a 6-foot-3 defenseman with a booming shot and high-end offensive instincts, but with real skating and defensive concerns.

“You’re getting almost a fourth forward,” the scout said. “He makes some blow-up [mistakes] on both sides of the puck.”

Sharks GM Mike Grier will have a much better shot at one of these top prospects at the No. 11 spot.

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