Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson locked up defenseman Kyle McLaren to a multi-year deal last week and now he has done the same with restricted free agents Patrick Marleau
and Marco Sturm.
The two speedy forwards, who broke in together during the 1997-98 campagain and have played seven seasons together, have signed contracts that carry them into their unrestricted free agency years. Both players have been integral members of the franchise since they arrived, but now lead both on and off the ice. Marleau signed for three years and Sturm for two.
"The two have played in World Cup and World Championship tournaments," said Wilson. "They continue to improve and I'm proud of the leadership they have shown."
Much like the 2003-04 campaign, Wilson is close to having everyone signed prior to camp beginning, a strategy which keeps all distractions away from the team and helped San Jose reach the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04.
Marleau, who will turn 26 in September, enters the 2005-06 season with 332 career NHL points (153 goals, 179 assists). In recent seasons, Marleau has played for Team Canada at various international tournaments including the 2003 (gold medal) and 2005 (silver medal) IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, where he helped Canada capture the tournament championship.
"I'm very happy to have it done before camp so we can start things off on the right foot," said Marleau. "Now I don't have to worry about it for a few years. San Jose is where I want to be. I love the Bay Area, the team, where we're headed and the opportunities coming off last season."
Sturm was just as happy.
"I like San Jose, they've treated me well," said Sturm. "I'm glad to be back after the long year, especially with San Jose."
Sturm acknowledged that unrestricted free agency could have been available after one season, but he like the offer and the surroundings.
"It is a hard deciscion," said Sturm. "I think in the end, for me and my family, it was a good deal."
In 2003-04, Marleau tied his career-highs in goals (28), assists (29) and points (57) in 80 games with the Sharks, mirroring his scoring totals from previous season and his 57 points were a team best. For his offensive performance and his leadership on the ice, Marleau was presented with the 2003-04 Seagate Technology "Sharks Player of the Year" award. Marleau also earned the 2003-04 PlayStation "Three Stars of the Game" award.
Marleau surpassed 300 career NHL points on Jan. 10 vs. Atlanta, posting a goal (300) and an assist (301). His nine-game point streak (4-6=10) from Nov. 6-26 set a career-high, with the Nov. 26 contest vs. the Chicago Blackhawks also being Marleau's 500th career NHL game. The Sharks went 15-4-5-1 in 2003-04 when Marleau scored a goal. Marleau played 15:11 at the All-Star Game on Feb. 8 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. serving as the Sharks All-Star representative. His consecutive games played streak, the third longest in franchise history, was snapped at 181 when he missed the Jan. 17 contest against Colorado with an ankle injury.
In the playoffs, Marleau posted 12 points (team-leading eight goals, four assists) in 17 games while captaining his squad to the Western Conference Finals. His playoff totals ranked him in a tie for 14th place in the league in playoff scoring and third in the league in playoff power play goals (team-high four). Marleau also posted hat tricks in Game Two of WCQF vs. St. Louis on April 10 and Game One of WQSF vs. Colorado on April 22.
In 2002-03, Marleau posted career-highs in points, goals and assists (28-29=57) in 82 games with the Sharks. His totals ranked him tied for first in goals (28), and third on the team in assists (29) and points (57). Included in his season highlights were posting a pair of six-game point streaks (3-7=10 from Dec. 10-26; 7-2=9, from Nov. 11-21). His franchise record tying six-game goal streak came during one of his six-game point streaks from Nov.11-21.
In addition, Marleau appeared in his 400th career NHL game on Oct. 19 vs. Colorado, becoming the youngest active player (23 years, 34 days) to accomplish the feat and the youngest player since Bob Carpenter (22 years, 268 days) who did so on April 6,1986.
In 2003-04, Sturm, who turns 26 this September, posted 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists) in 64 games with the Sharks. Despite suffering a season-ending ankle injury with 15 games remaining in the regular season, Sturm still managed to notch his third consecutive 20-goal season and finished second on the team in game-winning goals (6).
The all-time franchise leader in shorthanded (14) and overtime game-winning goals (5), Sturm appeared in his 500th career NHL game in the 2003-04 season, and enters this season fourth on the Sharks all-time list in games played (530), second behind Patrick Marleau
(558) among current players. The explosive Sturm twice posted career-high seven-game point streaks in 2003-04, the second time leading to runner-up for NHL Offensive Player of the Week (Nov. 16-23).
The six-foot, 195-pound native of Dingofling, Germany was originally selected by San Jose in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft (1st Round, 21st overall). His 257 points (122 goals, 135 assists) in 530 games make him the top ranked scorer to come out of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft Class.
Sturm is a regular on Germany's World Cup, Olympic and World Championship squads.