Recently, NBCSN Bay Area ran a series of posts regarding the potential number retirement of certain San Jose Sharks. Personally, I don’t think the Sharks should consider retiring the number of any Shark unless they satisfy 1 of 2 criteria:
- The player is a long-time* Shark that was key in winning San Jose a Stanley Cup OR
(*minimum of 300 games played with Sharks)
- The player is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Based on those stipulations, it’s obvious that the first number to be retired for the Sharks should be Joe Thornton, an obvious hall-of-fame inductee. However, the article series got me thinking about what the best all-time Sharks roster would look like. I’ve based my list on a minimum of 200 games played in teal. Obviously, some players such as Erik Karlsson, Dany Heatley, Teemu Selanne, and Mikka Kiprusoff would factor into a conversation of all-time Sharks, but none of them reached the 200 game tally as a Shark.
The Captain Line
The all-time top line for the Sharks is clearly Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Owen Nolan. This combo gives you Marleau’s speed, Nolan’s shot, and Thornton’s IQ. If you thought angry Jumbo was a sight to behold, you don’t remember seeing a pissed off Nolan. This line provides you the highest scoring center and right winger in franchise history with Thornton’s 1024 points and Nolan’s 451. While Marleau is the current franchise leader in points with 1082, Marleau has been a swiss army knife for San Jose, playing both center and wing while playing on several different lines.
Sturm – Couture – Cheechoo
This line provides creativity and consistency. Marco Sturm was a 20-goal scorer in the league in 7 of 8 seasons between ’01-02 and ’09-’10, including his final 3 seasons with San Jose before being packaged with Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to get Joe Thornton. At center, Logan Couture has posted 25 or more goals in all but one season not impacted by injury or lockout along with never posting lower than 50 points during that stretch. Finally, you have Richard Trophy winner, Jonathan Cheechoo. While his career in teal is relatively short at only 6 seasons, he’s still 9th on the all-time Sharks points list and 6th in goals.
Whitney – Pavelski – Hertl
The second player ever drafted by the San Jose Sharks, Ray Whitney makes my list just barely with the lowest amount of games played in teal at 200. The Wizard spent the first 6 of his 26 years in the NHL in San Jose and was one of the few bright spots during some bad seasons. Captain America Joe Pavelski, king off the tip in, was taken in the 7th round with the 205th pick in the 2003 NHL Draft. In 13 seasons with the Sharks, Pokey is 3rd on the franchise points list with 761. Since the ’10-’11 season, Pavs has never posted lower than 60 points*. While Tomas Hertl is now firmly a center, most of his time in teal was spent on the wing. At only 25 years old, Hertl has already spent 6 years with San Jose and is in the top 15 on the points list with 244.
Sundstrom – Ricci – Setoguchi
Most people see the names Sundstrom and Ricci and usually follow it with Scott Thornton to make up what was arguably the best 3rd line in franchise history. Niklas Sundstrom was only teal for 4 years, but still posted 137 points in 281 games. In the late 90’s into the early aughts, if Nolan was the face of the franchise, Ricci was the heart. This was largely because of his tenacity and, well, look at his face. Dubbed Denver’s Sexiest Athlete by Woody Paige back in 1997 while still with the Avalanche, Ricci had a nose for the net and was a tip specialist, a la Pavs. On the right side, we have another player whose short-lived time in teal was still impactful, Devin Setoguchi. While he only played 4 seasons in teal, most will remember his postseason play while others will remember him as the key piece in the Sharks trade for Brent Burns.
Off the bench
Clowe – Damphousse – Korolyuk
One of the toughest guys in the league, according to Drew Remenda, winger Ryane Clowe might be more well known by Sharks fans for playing the puck off the bench in a game against the Kings with the Pacific Division title on the line. At 10th in franchise points with 271, we have Vincent Damphousse at center. Some Sharks fans may remember a time when the line of Friesen-Damphousse-Nolan was the best line the Sharks had ever had. Finally, on the right, we have Alexander Korolyuk. While former head coach, Darryl Sutter, never appeared to be much of a Korky fan, Alex’s best moments came during the Ron Wilson era while playing with Marleau and Teemu Selanne.
For this exercise, I’m using the righty-lefty matches that current Sharks head coach, Peter DeBoer, appears to prefer.
Vlasic – Burns
Who else would it be besides the longest tenured defenseman in Marc-Edouard Vlasic with 965 games over 13 seasons and the leading scorer on defence for the Sharks with Brent Burns and his 466 points in 590 games? While some of Brent’s points came playing on the wing, forwards don’t win Norris trophies.
Ozolinsh – Boyle
How awesome would these two have been if they’d played together? Sandis Ozolinsh was the first real offensive threat on D and the first power play QB the Sharks ever had. Ozo was a key component to the first playoff run in San Jose history, posting 10 assists in 14 games during the ’94 playoffs. However, some may know him more for being the piece traded away to Colorado for Owen Nolan. While only playing 6 seasons for San Jose, Dan Boyle is 3rd in points all-time for Sharks defensemen with 269. His most memorable moment maybe scoring an own goal vs Colorado in the playoffs. However, I remember him scoring the first goal in the following game as well as many other moments like going coast-to-coast.
Stuart – Suter
This lefty pairing breaks with coach DeBoer’s predilection for righty/lefty. However, this coupling was a significant duo at the turn of the century. While playing only 4 seasons together, Stuart and Suter posted 88 and 101 points, respectively. Stuart still ranks 4th all time among Sharks defensemen with 170 points.
Off the bench
Ragnarsson – Braun
While Rags played the majority of his teal tenure with Mike Rathje, he posted 153 points in teal during 8 seasons with San Jose. Justin Braun was one point better at 154 over his 9 seasons.
Nabokov – Jones
Who else would it be? Some might make a case for Irbe based on feels, but Arturs only played 183 games for San Jose. Others might make a case for Antti Niemi, but let’s consider the numbers. Over 9 seasons with the Sharks, Nabby posted a 2.42 GAA with a .911 sv%. Over 5 seasons, Nemo posted a barely better 2.39 GAA and .917 sv% despite having much more talented players in front of him. With his 2.54 GAA and .910 sv%, Martin Jones, is the obvious back-up. This is not due to his low numbers, but because he won a cup as a back-up. HiYo!
As I mentioned earlier, there may be a few Sharks you may slot in over the names listed above if the 200 games minimum rule isn’t in effect. With that, honorable mention goes out to Erik Karlsson, Teemu Selanne, Igor Larionov, Dany Heatley, Mikka Kiprusoff, Johan Garpenlov, Timo Meier, Ulf Dahlen, Sergei Makarov, Evander Kane, Arturs Irbe, and Martin Havlat. I’m only kidding about Havlat. I also give long-time Shark Jeff Friesen a honorable mention who played 512 games in teal. While a strong case can be made to trade Sundstrom with Friesen on this list, Sundstrom meant more to his line than Friesen did to his and that’s what has Jeff listed as 6th on the my LW depth chart.
Who would you have on your all-time roster? Post it in the comments below.