San Jose Sharks: Top 25 Players In Franchise History – Part I


To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the San Jose Sharks, we have decided to unveil the Top 25 San Jose Sharks players in the franchise history. The list was very interesting to put together for several reasons.

Firstly, it is always hard to compare players that play different positions. How can one adequately compare Arturs Irbe against Mike Ricci?

Secondly, we look across 25 years of hockey that spans different playing eras – and that in itself presents a problem. Some fans are more sentimental than others, and will put more value into the good old days at the Cow Palace, while others only became fans during or after the Owen Nolan era.

Furthermore, there are cases where you really want to include a player in the Top 25 based on his skill or what he has done during his career, but his tenure with the Sharks may not have been lasting or eventful. For example, no matter how much I wanted to include Igor Larionov – three time Stanley Cup Champion, Hockey Hall of Famer, Olympic Gold Medalist – I could not justify placing him ahead of those 25 fine gentlemen on the list below. That is one of the beauties of the ‘Top’ lists – they are controversial, subjective, but we all love them!

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, greatness can be defined by so many different variables, and I guarantee that your definition of the ‘Top Player’ is probably different from anyone else’s. With some of the disclaimers out of the way, let’s start our feature by looking at the players who just made it into the Top 25 San Jose Sharks players of all time.

25. Doug Wilson

Played for the Sharks: 1991-93

Career Seasons: 1024GP – 237G – 590A – 827P – 830PIM

Career Playoffs: 95GP – 19G – 61A – 80P – 86PIM

Sharks Seasons: 86GP – 12G – 36A – 48P – 66PIM

Sharks Playoffs: 0GP – 0G – 0A – 0P –0PIM

Long before the Sharks franchise was established, Doug Wilson established himself as one of the better defensemen in the NHL. By the time he joined the San Jose Sharks, Wilson had close to 1,000 games in the regular season, and almost 800 points – terrific scoring rate for a defenseman. Needless to say, a player with such pedigree became the first ever captain for the Sharks.

While his tenure with the franchise was short – Wilson played in only 86 games over two seasons with the Sharks – he produced enough impact to be included on this list here. Apart from being the first player to wear ‘C’ on the teal colored NHL jersey, Wilson was also the first All-Star participant from the Sharks, and was recognized by his on and off the ice contributions with his two consecutive King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominations.

Presently, Wilson is the general manager for the Sharks, receiving much more criticism than during his time as a player. If we remember to keep Doug Wilson the player separate from Doug Wilson the manager – his inclusion on the list is well deserved.

24. Antti Niemi

Mar 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Sharks beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Played for the Sharks: 2010-15

Career Seasons: 338GP – 190W – .916% – 2.39GAA – 32SO

Career Playoffs: 62GP – 35W – .907% – 2.74GAA – 2SO

Sharks Seasons: 296GP – 163W – .917% – 2.40GAA – 25SO

Sharks Playoffs: 40GP – 19W – .905% – 2.79GAA – 0SO

The San Jose Sharks were quick enough to snatch the Cup winning goaltender the same summer Antti Niemi became the first Finnish goalie ever to win the Stanley Cup when he did it with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

During the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Niemi was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, but ultimately lost out to Sergei Bobrovsky – a feat similar to that of Evgeni Nabokov coming up short for his Vezina Trophy nomination in 2008.

‘Nemo’ could not match the longevity of Nabokov, or the insane acrobatics of Arturs Irbe, and that is okay. What he did was some really solid, stable goaltending for the franchise in the Northern California. He could not replicate his success of 2010 with the Sharks, and he was not a miraculous solution to all the franchise’s problems. Perhaps a little underrated, Niemi’s numbers are good for second place amongst goaltenders in the Sharks records books.

23. Ray Whitney

Apr 23, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Ray Whitney (13) skates against the Anaheim Ducks during game four of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Ducks 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Played for the Sharks: 1992-97

Career Seasons: 1330GP – 385G – 679A – 1064P – 465PIM

Career Playoffs: 108GP – 21G – 32A – 53P – 48PIM

Sharks Seasons: 198GP – 48G – 70A – 118P – 52PIM

Sharks Playoffs: 25GP – 4G – 8A – 12P – 10PIM

Also known as ‘The Wizard’, Ray Whitney is one of those players that some Sharks fans have some sentimental attachment to. He was the second draft pick the San Jose Sharks ever made, and he fared much better than the first player ever selected by the franchise.

Ray Whitney went on to have a terrific career, showing consistency and respectable work ethics, doing some serious magic despite his limited size. Sure, he suited up for more games with the Florida Panthers, and the Carolina Hurricanes, and he was only starting to establish himself as a true scoring threat in the league during his time with the Sharks, but Ray Whitney did enough magic on the ice to wow the crowds at the Cow Palace and the San Jose Arena (now the SAP Center).

The Sharks fans were happy when Whitney won his first Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, because the Wizard forever has a special place in most every Sharks fans’ heart.

22. Sandis Ozolinsh

Played for the Sharks: 1992-96, 2007-08

Career Seasons: 875GP – 167G – 397A – 564P – 638PIM

Career Playoffs: 137GP – 23G – 67A – 90P – 131PIM

Sharks Seasons: 212GP – 46G – 86A – 132P – 122PIM

Sharks Playoffs: 25GP – 3G – 12A – 15P – 14PIM

For the younger Sharks fan base, Ozolinsh is the veteran defenseman who appeared in a handful of games for the Sharks during the 2007-08 before fading to the KHL. We know that there is so much more to ‘Ozo’ than his last hurrah in the NHL. The Latvian native was drafted in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and quickly became one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in the league. His 26 goals during the 1993-94 season was more than any other defenseman in the league could manage. The same season, he added 38 assists, and was plus-16.

His booming shot, great skating ability, and high hockey IQ were truly mesmerizing. His first tenure with the Sharks ended during the 1995-96 season when he was traded for another Sharks icon – Owen Nolan. His second stint with the Sharks was not as memorable, but it was fitting for ‘Ozo’ to play his last NHL game for the same franchise that started his great career. 

A couple of his records remain untouched – the most regular season goals by a Sharks defenseman (26), and the most regular season points by a Sharks defenseman (64).

21. Kelly Kisio

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Played for the Sharks: 1991-93

Career Seasons: 761GP – 229G – 429A – 658P – 768PIM

Career Playoffs: 39GP – 6G – 15A – 21P – 52PIM

Sharks Seasons: 126GP – 37G – 78A – 115P – 144PIM

Sharks Playoffs: 0GP – 0G – 0A – 0P –0PIM

Referred to as ‘an original Shark’ by David Pollak in one of his last year’s articles, Kisio led the way in scoring for the Sharks during the 1992-93 season. His 78-point campaign was the first point per game production in Sharks history. His scoring prowess was recognized by receiving an invitation to the 1993 NHL All-Star Game.

Unfortunately, the 1992-93 season was Kisio’s last for the Sharks. Two seasons after that, he retired from the NHL. Albeit short, the stint with the Sharks was a memorable one. The fans knew there was a good chance Kisio would get on the scoresheet in any given game. The Peave River, Alberta native showcased precision passing on the young franchise that was struggling on most nights against more established teams. The sentimental value of seeing Kisio light up the Cow Palace place him firmly as the 21st greatest San Jose Sharks player.

Next: Joe Thornton Deserves Hall of Fame Induction

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