With the NHL draft quickly coming upon us, I’m taking a look at all sorts of San Jose Sharks draft history. We already covered how many homegrown players the Sharks had on their Stanley Cup Final roster, so now I’m sifting through San Jose’s draft history to figure out the top five Sharks draft picks of all time.
Here are a few qualifiers right off the bat:
- The player had to play at least 100 NHL games
- I’m primarily looking at their Sharks career
- I’m trying to combine both the quality of the player while considering where they were drafted
With all that being said, here’s the top five I came up with. Given the subjectivity of this, I’d love to see what you all think — maybe we can figure out some kind of a consensus if we put our heads together.
5. Patrick Marleau (No. 2, 1997)
This one was tough. Marleau has had the best Sharks career of all time but this is probably the easiest draft pick in San Jose history. Once Joe Thornton came off the board, Marleau was the obvious pick. So on one hand, credit to the Sharks for not overthinking things...on the other hand, it’s like when you hear people credit the Penguins for drafting Sidney Crosby. It doesn’t make sense.
4. Sandis Ozolinsh (No. 30, 1991)
In the Sharks first draft they picked up one of the best defenders in franchise history. Unfortunately Ozolinsh didn’t quite have the teammates around him while he wore teal to see many deep playoff runs, but the defender posted 122 points in 212 games with the Sharks in his career. Combine that with him being a second-round selection and you’ve got a damn good pick.
3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic (No. 36, 2005)
Like Ozolinsh, the Sharks got Vlasic early in the second round. And like Ozolinsh, San Jose got one of the best defenders in franchise history. Watching Vlasic play night in and night out it’s mind-boggling that he didn’t get picked in the first round of the 2005 draft. Here’s a look at the defenders who were selected before Vlasic:
- Jack Johnson (No. 3, Carolina)
- Brian Lee (No. 9, Ottawa)
- Luc Bourdon (No. 10, Vancouver)
- Marc Staal (No. 12, New York Rangers)
- Ryan Parent (No. 18, Nashville)
- Jakub Kindl (No. 19, Detroit)
- Matt Lashoff (No. 22, Boston)
- Joe Finley (No. 27, Washington)
- Matt Niskanen (No. 28, Dallas)
- Vladimir Mihalik (No. 30, Tampa Bay)
- Brendan Mikkelson (No. 31, Anaheim)
So yeah, the Sharks did well here. I’d take Vlasic above every single defender on this list and it’s not particularly close.
2. Evgeni Nabokov (No. 219, 1994)
Taken all the way in the ninth round of the 1994 draft, Nabby played brilliantly for the Sharks for 563 games over 10 seasons. He leads the Sharks in wins, shutouts and saves and, until Martin Jones unseats him (we hope), is by far the best goaltender in San Jose history. From the personal bias department: Nabby was my first favorite Shark long before I started following the team religiously. The Shark Tank chant “Nabby, Nabby” is something I can still hear ringing in my ears.
1. Joe Pavelski (No. 205, 2003)
From the outset of writing this post, this is where I thought I’d end up. After digging through the Sharks draft picks, Pavelski stood out as the obvious choice. Taken all the way in the seventh round of the draft, Pavelski has risen to be one of the best scorers in the NHL. The undersized kid from Wisconsin proved everyone wrong, and continues to do so, while captaining the first Sharks team to ever reach the Stanley Cup Final.
So what do you have? Who did I leave out? If I get a big enough response I’ll add a FTF Community top five at the bottom of this post.