The Stanley Cup, Playoffs start on Monday, but there’s very little for San Jose Sharks fans to root for over the next couple of months. To make the wait until next season a little more interesting, I thought it would be fun to the 16 playoff teams solely based on the former Sharks players on the rosters.
The trouble is, there aren’t a lot of former Sharks in this year’s postseason. In fact, teams 16 through 10 have no former Sharks, so really their spots on the list are arbitrary.
16. Los Angeles Kings
Listen, I know there was a temporary truce earlier this week when the Kings needed the Sharks to win in order to secure a spot in the playoffs, but the truce is over.
Back to that California rivalry.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins
2016 still hurts.
That is all.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
A three-peat seems a little greedy, don’t you think?
13. Toronto Maple Leafs
I can’t root for a team that would let James Reimer walk away like that. I just can’t.
12. St. Louis Blues
I’m not much fonder of what happened in 2019.
11. Carolina Hurricanes
The ‘Canes may have lost their shine, but they did get Patrick Marleau out of Toronto.
10. Nashville Predators
Thanks for all the great playoff times, Nashville. I never went home depressed, which was always appreciated.
Okay, now onto the teams with familiar faces.
9. Boston Bruins
While Charlie Coyle never officially suited up for the Sharks, I’m still going to call him a former Shark. Coyle was drafted by San Jose in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. One year later, the young forward prospect was traded to the Minnesota Wild, along with forward Devin Setoguchi, in exchange for skater Brent Burns.
So, whether you choose to cheer for Coyle because of what might have been or because he indirectly brought San Jose good memories with the Wookiee, he’s a good reason for Boston to take the ninth spot on the list.
8. Washington Capitals
While never an impact player, Matt Irwin always filled that role as a steady sixth defenseman.
Irwin joined the Worcester Sharks and impressed the team enough to sign an NHL contract. He joined the Sharks in 2013 and played 38 games for the team. He played for two more years with San Jose before the front office let him walk in free agency.
Irwin has been an NHL journeyman ever since.
7. Edmonton Oilers
Love him or hate him, Evander Kane has another opportunity at postseason success.
In 29 playoff games with the Sharks (the only playoff games of his career to date), Kane registered 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists). He also tallied 84 penalty minutes.
6. Calgary Flames
When I think of Ryan Carpenter, I like to think of what might have been if the Vegas Golden Knights hadn’t stolen him off the waiver wire all those years ago.
Carpenter started his career with the Worcester Sharks in 2014 and made his way to the NHL in 2015. It took a few years for Carpenter to show promise, but it really looked like the young forward would contribute during the 2017-18 season. He was going through growing pains and was waived on Dec. 12, 2017 for what was supposed to be a short stint with the Barracuda. Vegas had other plans and claimed Carpenter before he could be re-assigned.
To add insult to injury, Carpenter played for the Golden Knights against the Sharks at the end of that season, helping Vegas eliminate San Jose in the first round of the playoffs.
All in all, it’s not his fault that Vegas stole him away and I don’t hold it against him. The Flames are his third organization since leaving San Jose, having also played with the Chicago Blackhawks.
5. Minnesota Wild
Thank you, Jacob Middleton, for always standing up for your teammates.
We miss you!
4. Colorado Avalanche
I know that Andrew Cogliano was with the Sharks for less than a season and didn’t do much in his limited third-line role, but he was a good teammate who gave it his all, night in and night out.
He finds his way to number four on this list because he’s 34 years old and still doesn’t have a cup.
3. New York Rangers
The Rangers are the only team on this list with two former Sharks: Barclay Goodrow and Justin Braun.
Braun played for San Jose for nine years before the Sharks traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s tough being a right-hand shot defender on a team filled with right-hand shot defenders. Braun was a quality player during the Sharks' 2016 cup run, and is known for his strong skating skills.
Meanwhile, Goodrow will always be remembered for his 2019 Game 7 overtime goal against the Golden Knights.
2. Dallas Stars
In any other year, Joe Pavelski probably would be number one on this list, but he’s a close second this time around only due to the guy who occupies the top spot.
Everything that Captain America meant to the Sharks could probably be summed up by how the team performed in that aforementioned Game 7 of the 2019 playoffs. When Pavelski went down, the Sharks rallied themselves to a win, refusing to let the story end there.
As for what Pavelski personally brought to the team each and every night, look no further than his performance in Game 7 of the second round of the 2019 playoffs, his first game back after that brutal head injury:
1. Florida Panthers
“Jumbo” Joe Thornton continues to chase that elusive Stanley Cup and fingers-crossed that this is the year he finally achieves his goal.
It’s hard to put into words what Thornton has meant to Sharks fans, but if the team had a Mt. Rushmore, Thornton’s bearded smiling face would without a doubt be on it. There are few players who were not drafted by the Sharks who have had the impact on the organization that Joe Thornton did.
Though he may not be the elite player he once was, I’ll still be cheering every time he steps onto the ice this postseason.