SAN JOSE -- You can draft for speed. You can draft for scoring. You can draft for the ability to deliver bone-crunching checks.

But can you draft for mental toughness?

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has identified mental toughness as something that was in short supply after his team's epic playoff collapse against the Los Angeles Kings. And Friday evening's NHL draft in Philadelphia is the first chance Wilson gets to add prospects for the rebuild he has said his team is about to undertake.

"It's hard to quantify," Sharks director of scouting Tim Burke said of mental toughness. "And it's not as innate as you think. Environment has a lot to do with it."

But, he added, there are things scouts look for to get a sense of a player's psychological makeup.

"Stability, consistency, body language or lack of body language, how he handles the score of the game, what he does when they're up and what he does when they're down," Burke said.

Environment creates mental toughness all along the way in a player's development, Burke said.

"How you were brought up contributes to it, what your next-door neighbor's kid was like contributes to it, how your older brother handled you contributes to it. There's a lot of things," he said. "How many times were you put under fire? How did you bounce back from it? Who was there to catch you before you fell? There's a lot to it."

And, Burke noted, it can be developed during a season.

San Jose's failure to close out the Kings after taking a 3-0 series lead brought the team's mental toughness into question. Even the players are acknowledging that self-doubt was a factor in becoming only the fourth NHL team to lose a series after that kind of start.

"You know teams have come back and you don't want to be the team that embarrasses itself," Logan Couture said. "That creeps into your mind. You think about it."

Because mental toughness is on every scout's checklist that also includes speed and hockey sense, Burke said that element of the game won't necessarily move up the draft priority list because of what went wrong in the loss to a Kings team that went on to win the Stanley Cup.

While the nature of his team's loss prompted Wilson to declare it was time for a rebuild -- that the Sharks need to take one step back before they can take two steps forward -- he has made it clear that San Jose will not trade its first-round pick for a veteran NHL player who might provide immediate help. The Sharks hold the 20th overall selection.

Burke said the Sharks are honing in on three-to-five players that could be taken with the 20th pick.

San Jose also has two second-round picks -- 51st and 53rd overall -- and Wilson has said he expects to come away with at least three quality prospects. In addition, he likes that the Sharks go into the draft with seven choices this year and nine in 2015.

"You wouldn't want to go into this (rebuild) phase and have only three picks this year or four next year. It was planned out in advance," the G.M. said. "You try to forecast to the best of your ability the quality of a draft class every year."

The Sharks do have a history of draft-day trades to get a particular player even if it means sacrificing a second-round pick to move up only two spots in the order. And Burke hinted that could be the case this year, too.

"You never like where you're sitting," he said. "You'd always like to get a little higher."

  • The Sharks are holding their first draft party beginning at 3 p.m. Friday -- one hour before the draft -- at Stanley's, a sports bar located at the team's practice complex at South 10th Street and Alma Avenue. Sharks alumni including Owen Nolan, Kyle McLaren, Mike Rathje and Jamie Baker are expected to appear.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him at twitter.com/@PollakOnSharks.