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Sharks move up to land Czech forward
San Jose takes Lukas Kaspar with 22nd pick
6/27/04 - By Mike Lee

Sitting in the 28th position in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft didn't sit well with Sharks brass on Saturday, so they worked a three for two deal with the Dallas Stars, moving up to the 22nd spot in order to land forward Lukas Kaspar. San Jose sent the 28th, 52nd and 91st pick to their division rivals in exchange for the Stars first round draft spot and the 153rd overall pick. The Sharks felt they had to move up to land Kaspar, a native of the Czech Republic. San Jose also drafted goaltender Thomas Greiss with the 94th overall pick after exchanging a set of picks with the Boston Bruins.

Kaspar is a 6'2", 202 pound right wing that has spent parts of the past two season with Litvinov of the Czech Extraleague. The native of Most, slipped in the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau rankings from 8th to 14th among other European forwards after struggling this past season. He put up decent numbers for the Litvinov under 18 team the past four seasons, but his struggles in 2003-04 cost him on draft day.

"What we've done in the past is identify what we wanted and gone after it," said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. "We were very aggressive in trying to position ourselves to acquire him and were willing to move up much higher to get him. Another team was trying to move up to get him as well. We were very pleased."

Scouting reports praise his soft hands and hockey sense, but questions on his consistency and commitment to defense were big enough flags to have him move down in the draft.

"I think he showed he can play the physical game," said Tim Burke, the Sharks Director of Amateur Scouting. "The way his team trains, the winger tends to be high, but we feel we can work on that with him to bring him back defensively."

Kaspar hopes to join Litvinov natives Robert Reichel, Robert Lang and Martin Rucinsky in the NHL.

"I feel I am strong offensively and that I have good hockey sense," said Kaspar through a translator. "I can make passes and finish. I'm always working to improve my defense."

The first thing Shark fans will notice about the newest member of the organization are his long blonde locks. The scruffy forward slipped on a Sharks jersey after it was announced that San Jose had selected him, and the first thing that popped out of the jersey was shoulder length hair, ala Mike Ricci.

By dealing picks to land Kaspar, the Sharks were left without a second round selection and were forced to wait until the end fo the 3rd round before grabbing Greiss. San Jose feels they're getting a solid prospect in Greiss, an 18 year old netminder who has spent last season with the Cologne Sharks of the German Elite League.

"We didn't want to wait until tomorrow," said Burke. "We feel the kid has the potential to be a number one goalie. We thought he might not be there at 126 tomorrow."

Burke alluded to the fact that like all other Sharks netminders, he wants to get Greiss exposed to Wayne Thomas and Warren Strelow soon, but he also hinted that Greiss may be asked to stay in Germany to continue his development.

"He is in a top league and if he is playing a lot, we might keep him there," said Burke.

San Jose will continue its quest to build its pool of prospects with seven picks on Sunday in rounds four through nine.

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