For Sharks, it’s first things last

The Sharks selected a kid named Mirco Meier in the first round of the NHL draft on Friday. Or maybe it was Timo Mueller, Balls forgets.

Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter who the San Jose Hockey Country Club took in round one. The organ-i-zation doesn’t put much stock in it, anyway. Hasn’t for two decades, really.

Since 1998, the Sharks hit exactly one home run in the first round (Logan Couture, 2007). General manager Doug Wilson and his staff got virtually nothin’ there in the last seven years, three of which they did not have pick. Maybe Tomas Hertl will change that one day, but Balls won’t hold its breath.

Granted, the NHL draft is an inexact science. The Sharks also drafted 20th or lower six times in the last 17 years. Yet regardless of the circumstances, the most successful front offices are able to sniff out young talent consistently especially in the early rounds.

In chronological order, here is a sample of the All-Star talent the Sharks could have had in round one: Alex Tanguay, Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Duncan Keith, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Green, Tuukka Rask, James Neal, Claude Giroux, Semyon Varlamov, Nick Foligno, Justin Faulk…

The Sharks entered the draft with a desperate need for at least one stud defenseman. A right-handed center also should have been on their wish list. Timo Meier (yeah, that’s him) is a power forward. “A swing and a miss,” one draft site called the No. 9 pick. It will take three, a maybe four years to know for sure, but it’s not like the SJHCC hasn’t whiffed before.

PIPE DREAM: The Sharks passed on goalies Martin Jones, Eddie Lack, Robin Lehner, Anton Khudobin and Cam Talbot, all of whom were traded in the last two days. Then they dealt the free-agent rights to Antti Niemi to the Dallas Stars in return for a seventh-round draft pick.

Niemi can resign with his old team this summer, which may not be a bad idea when you consider Alex Stalock is the only goalie with any NHL experience on the roster. Oh, and Stalock has a bum left knee.

“You don’t rule out any options,” Wilson said.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings already have made significant moves in the conference this off-season.

Silly them.

“We haven’t even started playing games yet,” Wilson said. “Every team makes additions and subtractions. Last time I looked, it was still June.”

And the last time Balls looked, the Sharks owned the 12th worst record in a 14-team conference.

JUST ASKIN’: A’s switch-pitcher Pat Venditte was placed on the 15-day disabled list, but since only his right arm was on the fritz, shouldn’t he have been able to return after seven days and 12 hours?

BRING ON THE LAKERS: The Los Angeles Lakers-Warriors rivalry has been dormant too long — they’ve met all of two times in the last 36 postseasons — and don’t be surprised if that changes soon.

This summer the Lakers are in an ideal position to land either LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love, two of the biggest plums in the free agent pie. They drafted D’Angelo Russell, who might have had the biggest upside of anyone on the board. Balls isn’t sold on the second overall pick as a shotmaker, but he has the skill set to be the ball distributor the Lake Show hasn’t had in a while. They also may have a bargain in Stanford product Anthony Brown, who arrived in round two.

It’s not a stretch to believe the Lakers can sneak back into the playoffs next season. That may set up a series against the Champs in the first round, one that can’t come soon enough.

LOOK WHO’S TALKING: Remember when Phil Jackson chided the Warriors for their dependency on the 3-pointer not long ago? Well, the New York Knickerbockers president rolled the dice on first-rounder Kristaps Porzingis then bragged about how he could shoot the ball from 30 feet out.

Thirty-footers? Can’t wait to see the new version of the triangle offense. Neither can Carmelo Anthony, who isn’t thrilled about the pick, the New York Daily News reports.

JUST ASKIN’: It’s nice that ESPN’s Screamin’ A. Smith is so passionate about his Knickerbockers and all, but since when is being a big fan of the team you cover something for supposedly neutral media to flaunt in public?

LIKE OLD TIMES: When Jerian Grant and Larry Nance Jr. are selected in the NBA draft, and you’ve covered their fathers (Harvey and Larry Sr.) and an uncle (Horace) in the league, you know that you’ve been around a while.

YOUR TURN: “I don’t know spit about golf, but your first paragraph (on Tiger Woods) was my best laugh of the day.” — Marianne Smith, San Francisco
(It’s kinda sad that’s about all Woods is good for these days.)

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to and you may get your name in the paper one day.

Paul Ladewski

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