Mike Grier's first big decision as CEO ofSan Jose Sharkswould trade in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Ten months later, the transaction has aged well. Filip Bystedt, Cam Lund and Mattias Havelid are three of the club's best talents. Bystedt had a better draft-plus-one season than most players selected from No. 11 to when he was selected No. 27.
Now the Sharks have the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Would it make sense for Grier to do it again?
"I'm not ruling anything out," Grier said when he was available at the end of the season. "I think there must be a fairly significant bid to move from the four, but you never know what will happen when you get close to the draft. If there's a player another team really likes, we listen. But it would cost a lot.”
We'll take a look at each of the top three options for the Sharks to pick at No. 4 over the next few days, but let's dig a little deeper into this one for now. There are two main reasons why the Sharks are much more likely to go No. 4 and make a roster than go back.
First, a top-five selection hasn't traded after the top of the draft order since 2008, whenNew York Islandersswapped back twice, from #5 to #7 and then back to #9.
The times a pick was traded and ended up being a top-five pick (think of the one San Jose sent to Ottawa inErik Carlsonblockbuster), a team has only traded out of the top five twice in the last 20 years.
The second case was in 2004, whenColumbustraded No. 4 for picks No. 8 and No. 59. It's safe to assume the Sharks will want a lot more than that for No. 4 this year.
Second, the No. 4 pick in the 2023 draft isn't like the fourth pick in almost every other year inNHLhistory. This design has long been praised for the depth of potential franchise players at the top, save only Connor Bedard.
Adam Fantilli is the favorite to go second, but Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov have both been touted as potential No. 1 picks in a weaker draft class. Will Smith has left design boards and worked his way into this group for some talent reviewers.
"I see the quality in this draft, I see 20, maybe even 22-24 guys establishing themselves as top-two forwards and top-four defensemen, maybe even top-three defensemen," TSN analyst Craig Button said. "And the quality is also top notch. Assuming Bedard and Fantilli are one and two, yes, Carlsson, Michkov and Smith, you could make a case that any of them could eventually be as good as Fantilli.
So why would the Sharks even consider trading away a pick that gives them guaranteed access to at least two of these five wonderful prospects?
Well, GMs listen to pretty much any idea. And someone in Grier's position should take every opportunity to try to add more talent to his organization.
What could a realistic offer look like?
There are a few teams with the draft capital that could at least allow the Sharks to have an internal discussion about the bid.St. Louisranks No. 10 and also has two additional first-round picks (No. 25 from Toronto and one from Dallas that looks like 29th or 30th).Detroithas Nos. 9 and 17, plus a trio of second-round picks in the early 1940s.
These deals would be, to some extent, quantity over quality. Falling that far back would likely mean San Jose's first pick is a level or two below the No. 4 player.
There's another team that doesn't have that many extra picks at the moment, but might be motivated to make an attractive offer.
“I think one of the most interesting teams in this draft, especially the one around MichkovWashingtonat No. 8," Button said. "I don't think Michkov will pass Washington at eight. They drafted and signed Ivan Miroshnichenko without issue, so would they fit into this equation?
Then there's Arizona with No. 6 and No. 12. How about No. 4 and 26 for those two picks?
"It is a very exciting proposal. I think it deserves consideration," said Chris Peters, NHL Draft and prospect analyst at FLO Hockey and on "The Athletic Hockey Show."
The athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn created an updated version of aconcept pick trade value chartin 2020. Based on his chart, Nos. 4 and 26 are worth 12.3 wins above average in their first seven post-draft seasons. No. 6 and 12 together are worth 13.1.
It leans slightly in San Jose's favor, but as we've mentioned, this isn't a typical No. 4 roster. That's worth a little more than it would have been as the fourth pick in almost any draft over the past 20 years.
So let's say the choice values are close enough. Why would the Sharks consider this trade?
Option 1: Bedard, Fantilli and Carlsson are off the board and they don't like picking Michkov at number 4
So just bring Smith, right? Well, not every team is going to see a big gap between Smith and the next few guys at their plate. If the Sharks scouts have two other guys on their plate at the same level as Smith, like Ryan Leonard, Dalibor Dvorsky or David Reinbacher, then going back and picking up the 12th pick would be exciting.
Matvei Michkov (Maksim Konstantinov / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)
Option 2: The Sharks want Michkov, but the risk of the number 4 pick is too great for them
Going back two places would be a risk and it would pay offArizonaIMontrealthe chance to choose the Russian dynamo. But if the Sharks are comfortable with their information about what the Coyotes and Canadiens are up to, taking Michkov at No. 6 and adding a player with a higher potential hit rate at No. 12 compared to No. 12 would be a home run. 26. . Some teams may be afraid to take Michkov and he will never play for them.
Even if the Coyotes or Canadiens grab Michkov or someone else trades to one of those two spots to do so, it still works if they also think the backup plan (option 1) is strong.
For the Coyotes, the motivation is pretty simple. They have a million draft picks in the coming years but Logan Cooley is the only elite prospect they have and getting a high end pick is never guaranteed... they just tried to get one this year and ended up as No. 6.
There's a fair argument that if the Coyotes like Michkov (or Carlsson/Smith) it would be a good trade for them even if San Jose doesn't have No. 26 because it's a chance for Arizona to get a franchise player to get. a team on it has been desperately chasing for pretty much the franchise's entire existence.
What do the experts think? We asked Button, Peters andAthleticsScott Wheeler to share their thoughts on a switch…
Knob:I think the challenge would be convincing Arizona to drop back to 26. I think this draft goes 20-22 deep, maybe stretches to 24. And a team can say 20 or 22 stretches that. Does that make it impossible? None. Maybe there is a way to add something else and make it work.
Peters:This is certainly an interesting proposition and worth considering, but I still prefer the significant value of pick #4 over the combined value of 6 and 12.
I think the value the number 4 pick provides may trump all other options. Going from four to six doesn't seem like a huge drop, but I think it is in this version. At #4, you have the option of choosing one of the higher centers in this design. I think there is a reasonable expectation that Fantilli and Carlsson are both gone, but there is a possibility that one of the two is still number 4. If not one of them, Smith or maybe even Michkov, if you can afford to be patient.
If you drop back to six, I think you end up on a different level of player. And with that, I think you drop your chance of landing a star player or high impact player unless you bite the bullet and get Michkov there. There's no such thing as draft security, but four gives you a lot more options than six.
Wheeler:I think the focus for both teams should be on premium assets. The Sharks already have good B+/A prospects with William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau and Bystedt. But they lack a real franchise. The Coyotes have a closer in Cooley at the top of their pipeline, but both teams should rest assured that you're getting one of the A-level prospects in this draft at No. 4, and it's not promised at No. 4 .6 or 12 (you might get another Eklund or Dylan Guenther type there, but in all likelihood you won't get Cooley or better).
So that way, I'd be hesitant to go back when I'm the sharks. But if they're not in love with Smith or Carlsson, and they don't see Michkov as a risk worth taking, then it's worth considering. The actual calculation of that could theoretically favor a six and a 12 in most years, but I'm not sure if that's the case in this design specifically. If you're the Coyotes, you can ignore the math and make the move to add another blue-chipper. The idea of Smith/Carlsson-Cooley in the middle would certainly be hard for them not to jump on.
(Top photo by Bill Daly: Mike Stobe / NHLI via Getty Images)