SAN FRANCISCO -- Pat Falloon, a crafty high-scoring right wing, was selected by the expansion San Jose Sharks Saturday with the No. 2 pick in the NHL draft.
After the Quebec Nordiques opened the draft by taking center Eric Lindros, the Sharks chose Falloon with their first draft pick in history. After bulking up on veteran defensemen in the expansion and dispersal draft, San Jose focused on offensive players Saturday. However, Sharks General Manager Jack Ferreira claimed the offensive concentration was more coincidence than by design.
'We took the player (Falloon) who we felt was the best,' Ferreira said. 'When you are drafting 18-year-olds, you really can't draft for position because most of them are not able to come in and play right away. By the time they get to the NHL, your needs may have changed.'
With their two second-round picks, the Sharks selected Falloon's Spokane linemate Ray Whitney with the 23rd overall selection and Soviet defenseman Sindis Ozolnich with the 30th overall choice.
'These are the three players we wanted heading into draft,' Ferreira said. 'We are really happy.'
Falloon was a scoring machine in the junior leagues as he led Spokane to the Memorial Cup last season. He amassed 138 points (64 goals, 74 assists) in just 61 games and had 20 power-play goals and 10 short- handed scores.
'He's the type of player who can put numbers on the board,' Ferreira said. 'He not only can score goals, he can also create opportunities for his teammates. He can create with or without the puck. '
Falloon, who unlike Lindros donned the sweater of his team, said he was pleased by being selected by an expansion team.
'I think it's great,' he said. 'The advantage of getting drafted by an expansion team is you are starting with the team from scratch.'
Ferreira said Falloon's playing status will be determined in training camp.
'He'll get every opportunity,' Ferreira said. 'We'll see how he does in training camp and then we'll decide what's best for his development. Whether he goes back to his junior team or the Canadian Olympic team, it's something we'll decide at that time.'
Whitney, a 5-9 speedster, was runner-up to Lindros for Player of the Year in Canadian junior hockey and was the Western Hockey League scoring champ with 185 points.
'Some of the nights we went to see Falloon, Whitney would outperform him,' Ferreira said. 'He's exciting. He's exceptionally quick. We were concerned he might not be there later because we knew Edmonton had taken a good look at him.'
Whitney, who was rated only the 95th overall player by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, was shocked by his selection in the 23rd slot.
'I was rated pretty low by Central Scouting, but that's not what I was hearing from a lot of teams,' Whitney said. 'I'm a gamble, a guess-type of player. I'm excited and maybe a bit shocked.'
Ozolnich, who plays for the Dynamo Riga team, spoke to Shark officials in his hometown last week.
'We thought he was the best defenseman in the draft,' Ferreira said. 'Chuck Grillo (Sharks director of player personnel) had an interview with him when he was over there last week. In our discussions, we felt there was a good chance he would be able to come to our training camp.'
Ferreira said Ozolnich could 'play the point on the power play. He has good offensive skills. He's really steady.'