Since the San Jose Sharks’ first season in 1991, there has been a multitude of extraordinary talent throughout the organization. From the top goal scorers, assist leaders, and skaters, to the best goalies and defensemen, the Sharks organization and fans have seen it all. But which players have been the best of the best? Who has completely changed the organization and dominated the play every time they hit the ice? The following is a list that I believe answers these questions.
5. Marc-Edouard Vlasic
The Sharks drafted Marc-Edouard Vlasic 35th overall in 2005, and “Pickles” started his first full season in 2006-07. Since then, he has posted an incredible 72 goals, 252 assists, and plus-125 rating in 1,024 games played. He has the most games played out of any Sharks defenseman and is one of the few players to play at least 1,000 games with one organization.
In addition to Vlasic’s incredible stat sheet, he has appeared in 142 playoff games, won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics, a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and a silver medal for Team Canada in 2009 and 2017 at the World Championships. Because of his resume with the Sharks and his continued consistency, it is clear as to why he can be considered one of the best defensemen in franchise history.
4. Evgeni Nabokov
It would be wrong to talk about top franchise players without including a goalie, and I believe that Evgeni Nabokov clearly stands out as one of the best netminders the Sharks have had. He started his NHL career with the Sharks in 1999-00 and played for 10 seasons before being traded to the New York Islanders after the 2009-10 season. Throughout those 10 seasons, he had a .911 save percentage, a 2.39 goals-against average, 50 shutouts, and a 293-178-29 record.
Nabokov also holds Sharks’ records for goalies with most games played (563), most wins (293), most minutes (32,492), and most shutouts (50). Along with his remarkable stats, he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy five times, won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, and won a gold medal with Team Russia in 2008.
Ever since Nabokov left the organization, the Sharks have been searching for a goalie who can do the things he did, which is why he is ranked No. 4 on this list.
3. Owen Nolan
This one may come as a surprise for some, but it would be difficult to list off the top franchise players without Nolan on the list. Nolan played for the Sharks for eight seasons, recording 206 goals and 245 assists in 568 games played.
What set Nolan apart from other players’ was his tenacity and eagerness to compete. He finished his career ranked 71st in all-time goals and eighth in penalty minutes, which shows that he wasn’t only a goal scorer but also a player who wanted to get his hands dirty. He was also the first captain to lead the team for more than two years, as he kept the “C” on his jersey for five.
2. Joe Thornton
Most hockey fans envision Joe Thornton when they hear the name Sharks, and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, he was drafted first overall by the Boston Bruins and played eight seasons with them before being traded to the Sharks before the 2005-06 season. He has had a tremendous career with both teams and is most known for his ability to set up his teammates.
Thornton has a career total of 415 goals and 1,088 assists in 1,625 games played. He currently sits at 14th in NHL history for points, seventh in assists, and 10th in games played. Looking at these numbers alone would explain why he is considered one of the best players in Sharks history, but he is also a great leader on and off the ice, which completely solidifies his status as a top franchise player.
1. Patrick Marleau
Choosing between Thornton and Marleau was hard when making this list. Both players have dedicated their career to the Sharks, both have been leaders, and both hold incredible all-time records. However, I see Marleau as a more all-around player, which is why he edged Joe Thornton for the No. 1 spot.
Marleau has played all but two seasons with the Sharks out of his 22-year long career. He has career totals of 561 goals and 625 assists in 1,712 games played. He currently sits 25th in NHL history in goals and fifth in games played. He was captain for five different seasons and has been viewed as a consistent leader in the locker room.
However, what really sets Marleau apart from Thornton is his skating and offensive capabilities. Thornton is known for his incredible vision when setting players up, which makes him vulnerable when teams shut the passing lanes down. Marleau, however, is viewed as a dual-threat who is capable of picking corners and threading passes between the defensemen, which is why he is more threatening to teams versus Thornton.
Who do you think is considered the best player in Sharks’ history? Let me know in the comments below.
Jacob Kim is a recent graduate of Pepperdine University. Jacob started playing ice hockey at the age of three and continued to play at a high level until the age of 16. Jacob has a background in writing on legal issues pertaining to sports, especially the NHL.