San Jose Sharks History: The Ninth Overall Pick – Part Three


With time winding down until we hear Doug Wilson read out a name of some lucky kid drafted number nine overall at the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida, we are reviewing the past twenty-four ninth overall draft selections. You can check out the ninth overall bottom feeders from the past twenty-four years in our previous articles here (part one) and here (part two).

As we approach the top-20, the list will get more and more controversial. While there was a relative clear cut for the bottom players, we are getting into the territory of “your average” NHL player, and picking one over the other will start to get harder and harder.

Now, we are certainly not quite at the point of comparing the impact of Kyle McLaren versus Ruslan Salei, nor are we debating the potential impact of Dougie Hamilton versus the body of work that Dion Phaneuf has put in the NHL. However, separating Nick Boyton and Patrick Poulin was not as easy as I thought it would be.

18. Michael Rupp – Forward

NHL Stat Line: 610GP / 54G / 45A / 99P / 855PIM

Jan 28, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Mike Rupp (27) is held back by a referee as he attempts to fight with Anaheim Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (5) during the third period at the Honda Center. The Minnesota Wild defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

A giant of a man, Mike Rupp was a fighter and a bruiser. Rupp’s selection for this list was an interesting one because he was drafted twice – ninth overall in 1998, and seventy sixth overall in 2000, so we are going with his original draft position. You would not expect to see his surname on the scoring sheet, other than the area which lists out the penalty minutes. Even though Rupp appeared in 610 games – most of them were on one of the bottom lines.

Despite a rarity of scoring, he did have some memorable goals. Most notably, his Stanley Cup clinching goal for the New Jersey Devils in 2003, and two goals in the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in 2012. With somewhat limited mobility and production, his services are no longer in demand in today’s NHL.

17. James Sheppard – Forward

NHL Stat Line: 394GP / 23G / 68A / 91P / 192PIM

Sharks Stat Line: 156GP / 10G / 30A / 40P / 75PIM

Mar 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Rangers left wing James Sheppard (45) warms up prior to a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The first draftee on our list who is still an active player in the NHL and also someone who was part of the Sharks organization. When a ninth overall pick, in his prime, gets traded for a fourth-round pick (2015 trade value), you know that somewhere down the line things did not work out just quite how the Minnesota Wild scouting team imagined it would when they picked James Sheppard with their first-round selection in 2006.

Sheppard was a good player in the QMJHL (180 points in 187 games for Cape Breton Screaming Eagles), but even before he missed an enormous amount of time because of a leg injury, Sheppard could not establish a good scoring record, netting only 11 goals in 224 games. Sheppard is currently playing for the Rangers, but I wonder just how many more NHL seasons are left in him.

Provided that his health holds up, it will be interesting to see what kind of deal this ex-Shark will land in the open market. Maybe I am just disappointed in how his time went with San Jose, but unless his productivity picks up, with 0.05 goals per game, the bottom-six role is all I can see him in.

16. Nick Boynton – Defenseman

NHL Stat Line: 605GP / 34G / 110A / 144P / 862PIM

Another Stanley Cup Winner, Boynton is also the first All Star Game Participant on our list. Just like Michael Rupp, Boynton was also drafted twice – the Ontario native was selected ninth overall in the 1997 Draft in Pittsburgh, and then was drafted again in 1999 after failing to sign a contract with his original draft team Washington Capitals. Nick Boynton managed to put up a few good seasons with the Bruins, but could not sustain the productivity and consistency for long, slowly fading ever since the 2004-05 lockout. During his best season, he reached the 30 points plateau, and represented Boston Bruins at the All-Star Game in 2004.

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After several changes of address, he was lucky to land in Chicago at the very right time – the year was 2010. He appeared in only 3 games during the playoffs in the spring of that year, but it was enough to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup – something that almost all hockey players dream of, and something that only few achieve in their careers.

15. Patrick Poulin – Forward

NHL Stat Line: 634GP / 101G / 134A / 235P / 299PIM

Ring the bells – we have our first 100 goal scorer on the list! Overexcitement aside, Poulin had a decent NHL career. With that said, his NHL numbers were disappointing when you look at his last season (1991-92) with St. Hyacinthe Lasers of the QMJHL where he scored 52 goals and added 86 assists in just 56 games. The year after, he produced solid numbers in his first full NHL season – 51 points in 81 games, but ever since then he could never quite replicate his offensive success.

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  • Poulin was not as lucky as some of the players on our list, as in he never player for a Cup winning team. The closest he ever was to the Holy Grail was with the Blackhawks in 1995, but it was not close enough. Poulin will likely be most remembered for his time with the Montreal Canadiens at the back of his career. This Quebec native can be proud of his achievements, but I really doubt there were legions of fans wearing his jersey.

    Remember to check back next time when we reach the halfway point of our countdown where we continue ranking the ninth overall picks from the past twenty-four years in eager anticipation of who the Sharks will draft at number nine this year.

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