Though the San Jose Sharks lack a long and decorated history, the organization has been home to some of the most prolific NHL goal-scorers of the past three decades. This is due, in part, to good ownership and a solid coaching staff, but there is also something to be said about the environment that has been cultivated in San Jose. Even now, some of the best players in the league seem to enjoy playing in the Shark Tank.
The following list consists of the six most prolific goal-scorers in Sharks’ history. While this list won’t include a goals-per-game average—a list that would likely look much different—I wanted to focus on players who consistently contributed to the club’s success over an extended amount of years. As is probably expected, there are no defenseman who fall into this category. However, veteran defenseman Brent Burns does crack the list of most total points in franchise history.
6. Jonathan Cheechoo
Picked 29th overall by the Sharks in 1998, Jonathan Cheechoo proved to be one of the best draft picks in San Jose history. Dominating the OHL in the 1998-99 season playing with the Belleville Bulls—tallying 35 goals and 47 assists for a total of 82 points in just 63 games—Cheechoo moved on to play with the Kentucky Thoroughblades (later relocated and named the Cleveland Barons) in the 2000-01 season for further development.
Fighting through injuries due to his crash-and-bang style of play, Cheechoo finally broke onto the NHL scene during the 2002-03 season, putting up just nine goals and seven assists for a total of 16 points over the course of 66 games with the Sharks. This didn’t seem to be an impressive start for a player who had waited four years after being drafted to get to the big leagues.
But this was just the beginning.
Cheechoo showed up the following season, posting 28 goals and 19 assists in 81 games. It appeared that his impressive junior career was not going to be stifled in the NHL. And in the 2005-06 season—the only season where Cheechoo played in every regular-season game—he buried 56 goals, winning him the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2006. He is currently the only Shark to win the prestigious award.
Though the right-winger never performed as well as he did in the 2005-06 season, he was still able to post 165 total goals during his tenure with San Jose.
5. Owen Nolan
The first overall draft pick by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990 Entry Draft, Owen Nolan remained with the club until the 1995-96 season, when he was traded to the Sharks for defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Though Nolan had a ton of success in San Jose, two of his three most productive seasons came with the Nordiques. The Nordiques-turned-Avalanche had to have seen a lot in Ozolinsh to let go of what could possibly have been a franchise player in Nolan.
That’s not to say Nolan didn’t put up consistently good numbers with the Sharks, but his most productive season came in the 1999-00 season when he registered 84 points and tied the league for second in goals with 44. It was this same year that the Sharks went on to upset the first-seeded St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the playoffs.
Nolan never came close to topping this productive season for the remainder of his NHL career.
To top it all off, Nolan was a five-time NHL All-Star. But he was not just a good player—he was a leader, too. He was named captain of the Sharks in 1998 and would hold that title until 2003. It’s possible that he was a major component in attracting future talent to the franchise.
Nolan registered 206 goals over the eight years he played in the tank—good enough to earn him the fifth spot on the most prolific goal-scorers in San Jose’s short history. And he managed to do it in just a few years.
4. Joe Thornton
Joe “Jumbo” Thornton’s appearance on this list should come as a surprise to no one. Picked first overall in the 1997 Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, Jumbo has become a household name in San Jose. After being named captain of the Bruins in 2002, things started going downhill between the organization and Jumbo Joe. Not to get too much into the details, but Thornton was moved in an effort to build the team around Patrice Bergeron.
And so it is.
As a result, the Bruins shipped Thornton to San Jose for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart. The trade is considered one of the most lop-sided exchanges in NHL history.
None of this took the wind out of Jumbo’s sails. He hit the ground running in San Jose, registering 20 goals and 72 assists for 92 points in just 58 games in the 2005-06 season. And his production wouldn’t drop for several more seasons. Though Thornton never won the Rocket Richard Trophy and never brought the Stanley Cup to San Jose, he was a player’s player. He was a leader and someone the franchise came to rely on during his tenure with the club.
Over the course of 15 seasons, Jumbo played in 1,104 games and put up 251 goals. Though he has the second-most points in franchise history (1,055 points), he still maintains the fourth slot in goals scored during his time with the club. And it’s likely that Jumbo get accepted into the NHL Hall of Fame.
And the guy is still playing…four decades later!
3. Logan Couture
Picked ninth overall by the Sharks in the 2007 Entry Draft, Logan Couture has clawed his way through the organization that now sees him as the captain of the club. Though he’s suffered from a number of injuries, Couture has found a way to be a consistent playmaker and goal-scorer.
Glimmers of Couture’s stardom were already evident when he was drafted in 2005 by the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL, putting up 64 points in 65 games. This earned him a third overall ranking in rookie scoring throughout the league, behind John Tavares and Sergei Kostitsyn.
Couture’s development proceeded with encouraging results. He made his NHL debut in 2009, and he scored his first NHL goal in early November against Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings.
Though the current captain has not come close to securing the Rocket Richard Trophy, he’s reliable to score 20 goals per season. Much of the slump in his production has to do with injuries. The only season that he played in every regular season came in the 2014-15 season, and his point production was nothing to write home about.
Latest Sharks Content:
- Kraken Select Alexander True From San Jose Sharks
- Sharks Have Options to Improve Their Shallow Right Wing
- Sharks Could Use Granlund on Their Third Line
- Where Are They Now? The Jonathan Cheechoo Edition
- THW Mock Expansion Draft: San Jose Sharks Moves
The upside to Couture is that he’s still playing a major role for the Sharks and has a chance to climb the rankings before his time is done. At the time of this writing, Couture has 273 goals in just 768 games played. It has to make one wonder what kind of numbers he would have been able to put up if he could have stayed healthy throughout the early years of his career.
Nevertheless, San Jose’s captain is still a great player, and his future production will rely heavily on whether he’s able to stay healthy.
2. Joe Pavelski
To say that Joe Pavelski is one of the biggest steals in the history of the NHL Entry Draft would be a colossal understatement. Picked at 205th overall by the Sharks in 2003, Pavelski turned out to be everything no one expected. What’s so fascinating about Little Joe is that he really didn’t take a lot of time to find his footing in the NHL. The icing on the cake is that he leads all United States-born players in playoff goals, with 61.
Pavelski kicked off his NHL career in the 2006-07 season—and managed to score in his first game. Not only that, but he registered seven goals and ten points in his first 12 games with the club. The upper brass of the San Jose organization had to have known they’d struck gold with a young player coming out of the gates like Pavelski did.
The 2013-2014 season turned out to be the most productive season for Pavelski, where he registered 41 goals and 38 assists over the course of 82 games. Pavelski was fortunate in that he was able to stay healthy for several years during his tenure at the tank. It was this same year that Little Joe was voted seventh for the Hart Trophy.
It wasn’t long after (in 2015) that Pavelski was named the ninth captain of the San Jose Sharks. And he would hold this title until his departure from the club in 2019, when he signed with the Dallas Stars.
Over the course of 13 years in the tank, Pavelski managed to score 355 times in 963 total games. He was scoring, on average, every 2.71 games, making him one of the most important players on the roster over an extended period of time. Though it was sad to see Pavelski depart from San Jose, it’s still good to see that he’s producing quality numbers in Dallas.
1. Patrick Marleau
And now for the most prolific goal-scorer in San Jose Sharks history…
Marleau was a machine in more ways than one during his prime. Not only did he find a way to stay healthy for the bulk of his career, but he was taking advantage of his health by constantly putting the puck in the back of the net. He is only the fourth player in NHL history to play in at least 900 consecutive hockey games.
Picked second overall by the Sharks in the 1997 Entry Draft, Marleau has undoubtedly lived up to all the hype surrounding his name. If you remember, Joe Thornton was picked first overall this same year by the Bruins. The two future Hall of Famers would go on to play many games together in the tank, to great success.
It’s hard to say when Marleau really hit his stride with the Sharks because he has always been a producer. But if there was one season to look at, it would be the 2009-10 season, when he chalked up a career-high 83 points over the course of 82 regular-season games. 44 of those points being goals.
He would go on to play 1,607 games over the course of 21 seasons with the Sharks. During that time, he scored 522 times and put up 1,111 total points. Marleau has been a crowd favorite for many years, and he has been the backbone of the club.
Though there’s no telling if Marleau will come back for another year in the NHL, it’s safe to say that he’s left his mark on both the league and the franchise that believed in him for over two decades.
As with many young kids who grow up in the Midwest, CG played a lot of hockey. His love and appreciation for the game is why he’s here, writing for The Hockey Writers, covering his two favorite teams: Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks. But he writes other things, too, including a debut novel that is set to come out in July of 2021. You can find him on Twitter @TheLastSisyphus.