The San Jose Sharks history is not particularly long, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t enjoyed their share of great players. Who has been the best of the best? Who has made the biggest contributions to the team? Let’s take a look at who I’d consider the team’s Top 5 players of all-time:
1) Joe Thornton – Center
2005-2006 to Present
Since the trade that sent him from Boston to San Jose in December of 2005 (in exchange for F Marco Sturm, C Wayne Primeau and D Brad Stuart), Thornton has thrived. In 463 games he has compiled an astounding 547 points (137 goals, 410 assists). He holds several franchise records, including assists and plus-minus (+110 vs. second place of +51), despite playing the ninth most games (463). He also owns five of the top seven scoring seasons in franchise history and is the only player to eclipse the 100 point mark with 114 in 2006-2007. That doesn’t mention his 64 points in 74 playoff games, helping to captain the team through the best stretch in franchise history. Since he landed in San Jose the fewest wins they’ve had is 44 (including a 53 W season in ’08-’09). In the 13 season prior to his arrival? The most they ever won was 44 and only twice were above 35. That alone speaks volumes for where he stands in franchise history.
2) Evgeni Nabakov – Goalie
1999-2000 to 2009-2010
Is there any question who the best net minder in franchise history has been? Nabakov won 293 regular season games for the Sharks. Second place belongs to Vesa Toskala, who won a mere 65. That alone would place him highly on this list, not to mention his 2.39 GAA, .912 SV% and 50 SO. Then you look at the playoff numbers and they cement his spot at #2. With the pressure on he posted a 2.29 GAA in 80 starts (better than Patrick Roy who had a 2.30, Mike Richter who had a 2.68, Tom Barrasso who had a 3.01 and a whole host of other all time greats) and 7 SO (17th all-time). He deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best playoff goaltenders of all-time.
3) Patrick Marleau – Wing
1997-1998 to Present
He is the all-time team leader in points (766) and goals (357), not to mention game-winning goals (68), power play goals (108), games played (1,035) and a slew of other categories. Drafted #2 overall in 1997 (coincidentally, the first selection that year was current teammate Joe Thornton), Marleau has flourished. He has two of the Top 10 scoring seasons in franchise history, including a career best 86 points in 2005-2006.
4) Jonathan Cheechoo – Wing
2002-2003 to 2008-2009
He wasn’t on the team for an extensive period of time, but he made his presence felt in a major way. He is the only player to score more than 50 goals in a season, when he tallied 56 goals in 2005-2006 (clearly, that season was a “golden year” for Sharks’ scorers). His 93 points that season was the third most in franchise history (only Thornton has scored more). For a team without many superstars to speak of throughout their history (at least not ones that necessarily spent a significant amount of time in San Jose), his big year justifies including him here.
5) Owen Nolan – Wing
1995-1996 to 2002-2003
He was the team’s star during some rather lean years, as the Sharks didn’t start really winning until a year or two after Nolan was out of town. So, the fact that he ranks third all-time in team history with 451 points speaks volumes to the talent he brought to the table. He’s tied for fourth with 25 game winning goals and is second all-time in goals scored with 206. If he had played alongside Joe Thornton, we may be talking about the second or third best player in franchise history. That said, it’s impossible not to include him.