San Jose Sharks' All-Time Squad
San Jose has been home to some of the greatest players to lace up the skates in the past two decades.
And despite the fact the Sharks have yet to win a Stanley Cup in their history, they have formed some of the deepest squads in history.
Now with the Olympics under way and no more Sharks hockey to talk about until March, why not put together an all-time Sharks team?
Twelve forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies. Of all the players ever to don the teal and white, who would you choose?
Scoring talent is vital, but chemistry and hard working players are just as important. Puck movers on defense are critical, but so are defensive stalwarts and physical dominance.
If all the past Sharks could find a fountain of youth, how many would make your all-time squad and how many current Sharks would make your squad?
The current Sharks team is one of the deepest in team history, but how many make the cut? Two? Three? Six? Ten?
Without further ado, here would be my all-time Sharks squad.
Backup Goaltender: Arturs Irbe
Arturs Irbe was the first goalie in Sharks history to backstop the team to the playoffs. In 1993-94 when San Jose stunned the top seed Detroit Red Wings in their first ever playoff series, Irbe was in the nets after having a career year.
That season, Irbe played in 74 games with 2.84 GAA and a .900 save percentage, and while the save percentage seems low, it was still Irbe who gave a young squad solid play in nets that enabled them to complete the biggest upset in NHL history.
Irbe played in parts of five seasons with the Sharks from 1991-96, and with that never-say-die attitude in net, he is my backup goalie.
Starting Goaltender: Evgeni Nabokov
For those of you who know me personally, I am far from a fan of Evgeni Nabokov. The current No. 1 netminder for the Sharks has a tendency to allow a weak goal at terrible moments that often deflates the team in front of him.
But that said, the numbers don't lie, and of all the goalies ever to don the Sharks uniform, he is by far the most naturally gifted.
The only reason I placed Irbe higher than Nabokov in my all-time Shark players list is because Irbe exceeded expectations in his time with San Jose by winning a playoff round. Nabokov's expectations are far higher, and he has yet to reach them.
However, when it comes to the sheer numbers, Nabokov is the only answer for starting goalie on anybody's all-time Sharks squad.
Over 10 seasons, Nabokov has played in 545 games with a record of 283-171-29-36, with a 2.37 GAA, a .913 save percentage and 49 shutouts.
He's the only answer between the pipes.
Top Defensive Pair: Dan Boyle
Dan Boyle was absent from my all-time players list because of his short service time with the Sharks. After all, Boyle has yet to play two full seasons with the Sharks, but in terms of talent, San Jose has never seen a better defenseman.
"Danny Boy" or "Boiler" as some fans call him is on pace for 61 points as he has notched 11 goals and 45 points in 56 games this season.
That pace (if it holds true) would better the 57 points in 77 games Boyle had last season. This consistent play making ability and hard nosed style makes Boyle the best defensive asset the Sharks have ever had.
Top Defensive Pair: Scott Hannan
In terms of offensive defenseman and defensive defenseman on a top pair, there would be no better fit for Boyle's partner than Scott Hannan.
Hannan played in parts of eight seasons for the Sharks from 1998-2007 and was the epitome of a shut-down defenseman.
The British Columbia native has never put up large offensive numbers with his best statistical season coming in his final year with the Sharks when he totaled 24 points.
However, Hannan had the job of shutting down the opponents top players night in and night out, and over his Shark career, he performed admirably in that role.
Nobody will forget when Hannan dove and cleared the puck out of the zone with his hand during the 5-on-3 disadvantage in the playoffs back in 2006. With both himself and Mark Smith without a stick, the Sharks prevented the Oilers from scoring on the two man advantage, and the Tank went crazy.
Boyle-Hannan: Your all-time top defensive pair.
Second Defensive Pair: Sandis Ozolinsh
While Dan Boyle may be the best defensemen the Sharks have ever seen for his all-around game, determination and consistency, he will have to put together an insane final 20 games of this season to match the greatest offensive season by a defenseman in Sharks history.
That belongs to none other than Sandis Ozolinsh.
How did the Sharks make the playoffs in just their third year in existence back in 1993-94? Well a 26 goal, 64 point performance from a second year defenseman sure helped.
Ozolinsh, not Boyle holds the best statistical season for a puck moving defenseman in Sharks history and one could make an argument he belongs on the top-pair.
However, the lack of consistency throughout his career puts him as the puck mover on my second pair.
Second Defensive Pair: Kyle McLaren
With arguably the best hip check in NHL history, Kyle McLaren was a force to be reckoned with during his 12-year career.
McLaren spent five of those years with San Jose and in his prime, nobody not named Chris Pronger was more feared by opponents.
At 6'4" and 235 pounds, McLaren was an absolute rock of a man that would destroy everything that moved, and it was his mind-boggling hip checks that made him a fan favorite in San Jose.
Ozolinsh-McLaren? Talk about a dynamic attack of offense and physicality for your second defensive pair.
Third Defensive Pair: Doug Wilson
The current GM of the San Jose Sharks spent his final two seasons of an amazing career as a member of the expansion Sharks squad.
But as a Chicago Blackhawk, Wilson was a huge offensive force by topping 70 points three times, including an 85 point season in 1981-82.
However, Wilson's point totals went up and down throughout the years, as he backed up his 85 point performance with 69 and 58 point performances the following two seasons.
With nothing but varying numbers to judge Wilson as a player, I designate him to the third line.
However, those who actually saw him play could put him higher than that, and I couldn't argue against them.
But for my sake, I'll put him on the third pair.
Third Defensive Pair: Douglas Murray
I was about to put Bryan Marchment in this spot until I realized just how awesome of a career year Douglas Murray is currently having for the Sharks.
A first-time Olympian for the defending Gold Medal Swedish squad, Murray has proved this year that he can handle being a top-pair quality defenseman.
Not only has his physical and defensive dominance increased this season, but Murray's three goals on the year has tripled his previous career mark of one goal, which was his only career goal prior to this season.
His 13 points on the year is also a career high, surpassing his one goal, 10 point performance during the 2007-08 season.
No more is Murray a complete slouch in the offensive end. While it is still comical to see him out on the power play, he has shown enough improvement in that area to think he could become a 20 point per season type defenseman.
It may not be much, but an improved offensive game from Murray is huge when you consider how dominant he is defensively.
The sky is the limit for Murray who is quickly becoming one of the best true defensemen in the NHL.
Fourth Line: Scott Thornton, Mike Ricci, Niklas Sundstrom
The fourth line for my all-time Sharks squad was the best third line in hockey back in the early 2000s.
With Scott Thornton at left wing, fan favorite Mike Ricci at center and Niklas Sundstrom at right wing, this hard working trio was more famous than any of the Sharks' top lines during that time.
San Jose had a fair share of scorers at the time, but this trio emphasized hard work, determination, and chemistry. At both ends of the ice, these three just knew how to get the job done.
Any Sharks fan putting together their all-time team would be crazy not to include this line on their squad.
Third Line Left Wing: Marco Sturm
Marco Sturm wasn't an elite scorer for San Jose and has only topped 50 points once in his career and that came in his current stint with the Boston Bruins.
But Marco was a fan favorite for his speed and tenacity. From 2001-2004 Sturm had three straight 20 goal seasons, the third of which was cut short by a nasty leg injury that kept him out of the postseason.
The German native had a knack for coming up huge for the Sharks, and the production he brought to the table is key for my third line.
Third Line Center: Jeremy Roenick
If there was any player in Sharks history who had more heart, more energy, more grit, and a greater determination to win than Jeremy Roenick, please show me who that is, because in my mind there isn't one.
Despite playing just the final two years of his fabulous career with San Jose, Jeremy Roenick was one of the most beloved Sharks in history. He capped off a phenomenal bounce back season in 2007-08 with a two goal, two assist performance in game seven of the quarter final series against the Flames.
His clutch performances throughout that season made it one of the more memorable individual seasons in team history.
Sharks fans can only dream that they had Roenick in his prime; what an asset he was for the Blackhawks in the early 90's, tallying 100 point seasons three years in a row from 1991-1994.
Third Line Right Wing: Jonathan Cheechoo
He may have fallen off the face of the earth quicker than any other Rocket Richard Trophy winner, but hey, not everyone can say they have led the entire league in goal scoring, and Jonathan Cheechoo can.
Cheechoo was a solid player before Joe Thornton came along, scoring a brilliant goal between his legs in the 2003-04 playoffs and being simply a hard working winger with a wicked shot.
Throw Joe Thornton into that picture and Cheechoo quickly became a scoring machine, putting up 56 in 2005-06 and 38 the following year after that.
Unfortunately, injuries have caused an immense downfall for Cheechoo, and his career nearly looks over already.
But from 2003-2007, Cheechoo was as talented a scorer as they come.
Second Line Left Wing: Jeff Friesen
Jeff Friesen captured the hearts of all young Sharks fans who would play street hockey in the neighborhood.
Friesen was blazing fast, could shoot, and could pass; he could do it all.
From 1994-2001, Friesen tallied 149 goals and 201 assists in 512 games before being traded to Anaheim.
Let's just say that trade was one of the more controversial in Sharks history.
Friesen was simply a gamer and fits in perfectly on the left side of my second line.
Second Line Center: Vinny Damphousse
In his prime with the Maple Leafs, Oilers and Canadiens, Vincent Damphousse tallied five 89+ point seasons.
And while he was already 31 by the time he came to San Jose, he still notched 83 points in his first 94 games for the Sharks.
Damphousse's acquisition at the trade deadline of the 1998-99 season helped turn the Sharks into a perennial playoff team, and a couple years after his arrival, the Sharks were division champions and a No. 3 seed in the postseason.
Two years after that, Damphousse helped lead the team to a No. 2 seed and their first ever Western Conference Finals appearance.
The perfect second line center, there is no other choice but Vinny for my all-time Sharks squad.
Second-Line Right Wing: Owen Nolan
Owen Nolan was the unquestioned leader of the Sharks from 1995-2003. In fact, from 1998-2003, Nolan wore the C to demonstrate what he meant to this Sharks team in the late 90s/early 00s.
As a Shark, Nolan had the best year of his career scoring 44 goals and 84 points during the 1999-2000 season when the Sharks upset the top-seeded St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs.
Nolan's true power forward mentality and infectious smile made him every kid's favorite player to emulate back in the day.
He meant so much to this organization, it is hard to even put it into words. Whatever the team needed to get going, Nolan would deliver it. Whether it was a goal, a hit, or a fight, Nolan would come through.
In my mind, and that of many other Shark fans, nobody should wear the No. 11 anymore. Marcel Goc did after Nolan's departure but let's forget about that and prevent anybody else from wearing it.
No. 11 in teal belongs to Nolan, and as the ideal power forward, he belongs on the right side of my second line.
Top Line: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, & Dany Heatley
We won't know for sure until the postseason, but in my mind and that of most Sharks fans, the current top line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Dany Heatley is the best line in the NHL today.
When an entire forward line from one team is doing the majority of damage for the best team in the world (Team Canada), you know that squad has to be pretty damn good.
With Patrick Marleau on the left side of this line, the Sharks have arguably the most complete player in the NHL. He may not put up the points that a Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby, or Alexander Ovechkin would, but the speed, shot, penalty killing, and leadership qualities combine for one for the most versatile scorer in the game.
Marleau can play wing and center, is a top notch penalty killer, is arguably the fastest skater in the league, and is having back to back career years when it comes to goal scoring.
Of course it helps when the game's best passer is setting you up with perfect pass after perfect pass. Joe Thornton is once again an assist machine this season, leading the league with 59 assists in 62 games.
As a former Art Ross Trophy winner, Thornton has made passes that most players can only dream of making and with the best team around him in his four years with the club; it is now or never for Thornton to get over the playoff hump.
Getting over his past playoff failures should be easier now that he has perennial all-star sniper Dany Heatley on his right wing. The Heater is on pace for 42 goals and 86 points and has provided the perfect scorer to play alongside Thornton.
With Heatley in the mix, the Sharks have depth at forward never seen before and hopefully his addition will finally be able break the Sharks of their postseason disappointments.
Only time will tell if this trio can get it done when it matters most, but for now, people would be crazy not to put them as their top line for an all-time Sharks squad.