By Zackery Robert

Moving along and away from the east coast we now go back to the west coast and visit the San Jose Sharks, with their inaugural season during the 1991-1992 season the Sharks have been drafting since 1992 and with a little over a 30 years of drafting experience they have had plenty of opportunities to draft players that would help shape their franchise’s history.

When talking about the San Jose Sharks one player that has to be talked about is that of 1997 second overall selection Patrick Marleau. Going in the draft right after Joe Thornton, who would end up being his teammate for many seasons in San Jose, Patrick marleau would turn out to be the longest tenured San Jose Sharks player in their history and he would also turn out to be the one player who broke the all-time games played record which now currently sits at 1,779 games played in the NHL. Marleau had two 80 plus point seasons during his time with the sharks and he helped lead them to the Stanley Cup Final during his time with the club. Marleau was a long time captain of the San Jose Sharks and was their first true star player.

Coming up next is one of the most prolific goal scorers in the history of any American NHL player. Joe Pavelski was drafted in the 7th round 205th overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft by the San Jose Sharks and he made his NHL debut in the 2006-2007 season. Pavelski would play the first 13 years of his career in San Jose where he scored five seasons of 30 plus goals and one season of that he scored his career high of 41 goals. Pavelski was the Sharks first true goal scorer in their franchise’s history. Pavelski would captain the San Jose Sharks as well during his time with the club and would represent the team at multiple All-Star games.

Coming up next we will take a look back at the 2007 draft where the San Jose Sharks held the ninth overall selection and used that pic to select Logan Couture. Making his debut in the 2009-2010 season Couture has been a multiple time 30 plus goal scorer and has reached the 60 plus point plateau five times in his career so far. He is the current captain of the San Jose Sharks and has been with the club for 14 seasons so far. Couture was the Sharks’ number one prospect once drafted and he turned out to be quite the successful pick for the club, he has been consistent throughout his career and has become a fan favourite in San Jose so much so that it would not be hard to believe that once his career has finished he will see his number 39 retired by the San Jose Sharks franchise.

Moving away from fan favourites we will now look towards players who many fans may not have even heard of. We shall first take a look at the 1995 draft where the San Jose Sharks held the 12th pick overall. with this pic the Sharks chose Finnish winger Teemu Riihijarvi. Riihijarvi would continue his career after being drafted in Finland and would never come over to play in North America. After being drafted Riihijarvi would play 11 more seasons before calling it a career, never once playing for the San Jose Sharks. Now this draft was not lined up with a bunch of star-studded players after the 12th overall pick, however there were a multitude of better options for the Sharks to pick at the 12th overall selection. Three examples of better options that they could have picked are Michael Handzus who was chosen in the fourth round 101st overall, he would go on to play 1009 games in the NHL. Another option the Sharks could have picked was Petr Sykora who was chosen with the 18th overall pick, he is a veteran of 1,017 games in the NHL. Finally, a player that could have been picked if they wanted to go on the blue line would have been Stephane Robidas who was drafted 164th overall and ended his career with 937 games played in the NHL.

Moving along we will move only ahead 1 year to the 1996 draft where we saw the San Jose Sharks hold the second overall selection. With that pick the shark selected Russian defenseman Andrei Zyuzin, Zyuzin would go on to play only 81 games for the San Jose Sharks before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a mediocre return. now of course when it comes to defenseman you’re not necessarily looking at them to be putting up close to a point per game or even 50 or more points per game in a season, however being that Zyuzin was such a high pick at second overall you would have hoped for more production during his time on the ice, Zyuzin finished his career with San Jose with those 81 games and only scoring 17 points during that time. Just like the 1995 draft there wasn’t an immense amount of star players taken in this draft, however in this case there was one, if you were to take a look back you would find in the third round at pick number 56, exactly one pick after the San Jose Sharks picked in this round at number 55, you would find the New York Islanders drafting Slovakian defenseman Zdeno Chara. Being in need of a defenseman during this time the Sharks would have been much better off doing more due diligence on Chara and potentially drafting him in this draft to help soften the blow that is this second overall pick.

With one more player to take a look at during this part of the article we will go back to the 1992 draft where the San Jose Sharks held two picks in the top 10 of the draft. With their second pick in the top 10 at number 10 they took this opportunity to draft Russian Winger Andrei Nazarov. Nazarov made his NHL debut in the 1993-1994 NHL season playing one game, he would make a more substantial impact in The Following Season playing 26 games while registering eight points. Nazarov would end up being traded in March of 1998 along with a first round pick in the 1998 draft to the Tampa Bay Lightning for two players plus a first round pick in the 1998 draft, which this particular first rounder would again be traded away at the draft. If this original selection of Nazarov was not bad enough already, the extra edition in which he was traded with certainly makes this much worse. This 1998 first round pick that was traded along with Nazarov to Tampa Bay ended up being the first overall selection in that draft in which Tampa Bay used it to select Quebec Center Vincent Lecavalier. Not only did San Jose only get 169 games out of their 10th overall pick but they also lost out on a future number one Centre in Vincent Lecavalier.

Currently in 2023 the San Jose Sharks are in the midst of a rebuild and are looking towards this upcoming draft holding the fourth overall selection in the first round. The Sharks have a total of 12 picks in this upcoming draft, 1st, 1st (NJ), 2nd, 3rd (CAR), 4th, 4th (COL), 5th, 5th (CBJ), 6th, 7th, 7th, (PIT), 7th (VAN). With this mountain of picks San Jose should look to do quite a bit of damage in this draft and help them speed up this rebuild, however when it comes to the fourth overall pick the San Jose Sharks should use this selection to choose the best available player and in particularity to this draft that would be any of the following three players, Matvei Michkov, Will Smith, Leo Carlsson. Any of these three forwards would add significant help on the offensive side for the Sharks and any of these three players could end up potentially being a star player in the NHL allowing the San Jose Sharks to build around this player along with somebody like William Eklund.

For more information on the 2023 NHL Draft class be sure to pick up your copy of the comprehensive DraftPro 2023 NHL Draft Guide.