With the 28th pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson...
...has a tough decision to make. At this point in the draft, there's a talent plateau, and many of the players who are more of "consensus" picks are long since gone, including the more heralded defensive prospects that would have been likely to catch the eye of a GM who is a former D-man himself.
The Sharks prospect system is fairly deep in goaltending, and with Niemi and Niittymaki under contract until 2015 and 2012 respectively, the Sharks have the luxury of time to develop those goaltending prospects. It's difficult to believe the Sharks would pick a goalie, especially after committing to Niemi's contract extension this year.
The Sharks are stocked at Center and Right Wing as well, both with players that have already hit the NHL (Logan Couture) and well-regarded prospects (Charlie Coyle). Their prospect pool is notably weak at Left Wing, and their D prospect pool is shallow but has several players with excellent potential at the top of it. (Nick Petrecki, who Hockeys Future has listed as their top D-prospect, was drafted in this slot by the Sharks in 2007.)
When Doug Wilson looks at the board, he's going to see several different things going on. The top half-dozen D prospects are all long gone, and the next handful have gone as well - the LHH posters and writers are very high on this year's D class! - and there's also one interesting prospect falling down the board, RW Ty Rattie of Portland. For LW, there's Victoriaville skater Phillip Danault. And the D prospects, who have been thoroughly picked over already, still have David Musil available.
Looking at a couple of other mock drafts, I saw more than few where Rattie fell to the Sharks and they took him, but I don't think Wilson will lean that way, given the Sharks current roster and prospect makeup.
David Musil is an interesting option as well - he's got moderate size and is lauded for being able to process during play and make smart passes. However, the general consensus on him also has him lacking skating ability AND having yet to develop the physical side of his game that his size should grant him.
This leaves Danault. Danault has acceptable size at 6' but is a bit below what might be his optimal weight. He put up excellent numbers for Victoriaville in a playoff year this year, and led them in points during their 2-round trip to the playoffs. He's been a captain consistently as he's developed. He has international experience with Canada's U17 and U18 teams. He has other attributes which could be used to sell, but at this point the fact that he's also the top LW prospect is what will seal the deal for Wilson.
Have a short YouTube video...
Philip Danault goal + big hit vs Saint-John (2010-10-17) (via nhldraftvideo)
...and another for good measure.
Philip Danault 2 goal vs Baie-Comeau (2011-01-12) (via nhldraftvideo)
What do you think?