Late last week, the San Jose Sharks inked former 67’s captain Jake Middleton to a three-year entry-level contract. A well-earned accomplishment for the steady, stay-at-home defenceman after playing for the club’s AHL affiliate last season.
The signing comes as no surprise though, as another past Barber Poles blueliner was the architect behind it.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson played his junior career (1974-77) with the 67’s and is revered as one of the best defenceman to don the red, white and black stripes. In 194 career OHL games, Wilson tallied 295 points; including a staggering 91 goals.
Whether it be fond memories of the Nation’s Capital, or an everlasting respect for the 67’s organization, Wilson has continued to show a taste for Barber Poles talent since joining the Sharks organization in 2003. In total, the Ottawa-born executive has drafted seven 67’s players over the past 14 seasons.
With his first pick (22nd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Wilson selected Lukáš Kašpar. The Czech forward joined Ottawa that season and helped the team advance all the way to the Memorial Cup. A year later, the Sharks GM double-dipped in the draft, selecting a pair of defencemen in Derek Joslin (RD5 – 149th overall) and Will Colbert (RD6 – 183rd overall) from the 67’s.
Jamie McGinn, now skating with the Arizona Coyotes, was the next Barber Pole headed to the Bay Area. Chosen 36th overall by San Jose in the second round of the 2006 NHL Draft, the gritty forward spent parts of four seasons with the Sharks before being dealt to Colorado.
Close friend of McGinn and the most notable 67-turned-Shark is Logan Couture. San Jose selected the dynamic scoring centre ninth overall in 2007 after two very successful seasons in Ottawa. Now a veteran NHLer, Couture has been a model of consistency over his eight years in the league (averaging 22 goals/season) and has developed into a leader in the Sharks’ locker room that included a run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
Fast forward to this past summer and Doug Wilson was at it again.
The Sharks GM landed a steal in the sixth round, drafting current 67’s centre Sasha Chmelevski with the 185th pick. A native of Huntington Beach, California, Sasha was obviously over the moon to be selected by one of the three NHL teams residing in his home state.
“To be drafted by a California team, it’s something you dream about as a kid,” expressed Sasha in a recent interview with Ottawa67s.com.
Comparisons between Sasha and Logan Couture start with their jersey number (89) and continue on as both forwards possess surreal shots and above-average hockey sense. If Logan’s career path is any indication of what Sasha may do, the Sharks have found a true diamond in the rough.
Doug Wilson’s drafting tendency definitely has the chance to repeat in 2018, as three bluechip defenders, Carter Robertson, Kevin Bahl, and Peter Stratis, and sophomore forwards Sam Bitten and Kody Clark are all draft eligible next June.