Selected with the 29th overall pick in the second round of the 1998 NHL Draft, Jonathan Cheechoo came to be one of a long list of success story-turned-failures in the NHL. After an extraordinary junior career with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL which saw him score 76, 82, and 91 points respectively over three seasons, the right winger from a place called Moose Factory, Ontario spent two seasons in the AHL before making his NHL debut.
That debut came in the 2002-2003 season, however it would take another year before he became a full-time NHLer. His true breakout came in the 2005-2006 season. Following the lockout of 2004, he posted 56 goals and 37 assists for 93 points, earning himself the Rocket Richard award for most goals in a single season. He went on to score 4 goals and 5 assists in 11 playoff games for the Sharks, his second of five playoff series with the team.
Unfortunately for Cheechoo and the Sharks, he would never come close to that success again, and it seemed to take its toll. He went on to post 69, 37, and 29 points in his next (and final) three seasons as a Shark before being traded to the Ottawa Senators along with Milan Michalek for Dany Heatley. However, his first season with the Senators would be his last, and he would spend the last few years of his North American hockey career in the AHL.
The 2013-2014 season proved to be a fresh start for Cheechoo, as he signed a contract with Medvescak Zagreb in the KHL. He is an alternate captain for the club and has posted 18G, 14A for 32 points in 43 GP. He has proven himself as one of the league’s elite and has even earned himself a spot in the 2014 KHL All-Star Game. Although he could not find stable and lasting success at the NHL level, the former Sharks star has moved on to the world’s second-best hockey league and seems to be thriving there.