The only thing better than one first-rounder is two first-rounders.

It’s June 21, 1997 at Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Sharks hold the No. 2 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft and, via trade, the 23rd.

“With the second overall pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, the Sharks are proud to select, from the Seattle Thunderbirds: Patrick Marleau.”

“With the 23rd overall pick, the Sharks are proud to select, from the Kelowna Rockets: Scott Hannan.”

Both picks worked out well for the Sharks franchise. Marleau spent all but two of his 23 seasons with the Sharks. Hannan spent parts of 11 seasons in Teal.

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The Sharks have the chance to emulate the 1997 Draft again this year in Las Vegas. The Sharks hold the No. 1 overall selection and the No. 14 overall selection.

Hannan, now the director of the Junior Sharks hockey program, knows the importance of the draft, especially with this year’s two first-round selections.

“I think Mike (Grier) has done a great job getting draft picks which gives you the opportunity to draft kids. Call it luck, call it fortune, call it whatever you want but we’ve got the first overall pick, and this kid is a gamechanger,” Hannan said. “He’s got a work ethic and a timing that doesn’t come around very often. They’re lucky but there’s a lot of pieces to be played here with. That 14th pick, the picks next year, and they’ve got a great development program.”

That 1997 pair went into the draft knowing each other on the ice, although as opponents, not teammates.

“Well, I played in the WHL and so did Scott. We played against each other in juniors. So, it was great having a familiar face on the same team, eventually getting to be teammates,” Marleau said.


In addition to the on-ice benefit of securing two first-rounders in one draft, it’s also helpful for the players to have someone to lean on who can relate to what they are going through. Marleau had Hannan, 2023’s first-rounders, Will Smith and Quentin Musty, also have a bond and the inbound pair will too.

“I think it’s huge and super important for them. Two players coming in, having similar experiences, coming in at the same time, learning the same things, going through the same struggles,” Marleau said. “It’s only going to make them better veteran leaders down the road and will make them better players. Me coming in with Scotty Hannan, just to have someone your age that you can hang out with or talk to and everything’s new for them too. So, you can kind of bounce things off of each other and learn a lot that way.”

Marleau came out of the draft at 18, went straight to the Sharks, and stayed there.

“Coming out of the WHL and making the NHL right away, I think I was too young and naive to think I could do anything else. I came to camp in my head, you know, ‘I’m going to make this team.’ Must’ve done pretty well ‘cause they kept me around,” Marleau said.

Playing against grown men, traveling, keeping up with an 82-game schedule can be tough on anyone let alone an 18-year-old. However, Marleau thinks this generation comes in more prepared to make the jump.

“Now, because of the rule changes, they can excel right away as opposed to when I first came in when you had to get bigger, get stronger. Now the way they come in, they’re so skilled, they’re a lot more developed than players probably when I first came in. So they can take that burden and use their skill to their advantage,” Marleau said.

While Hannan said he had a good first camp it wasn’t until he was a 20-year-old that he really stayed with the NHL club.

The start to their careers differed slightly but both noted how important the veterans and the staff were to their development.

“I think I had some of the best veteran leadership an 18-year-old could have when I came into the Sharks,” Marleau said. “They had so many veteran guys. Kelly Hrudey took me in my first year. Bernie Nicholls, Tony Granato, Gary Suter, Marty McSorley, all these guys were idols of mine growing up, and being able to sit in the locker room, going out to dinner with them.”

He continued, “They basically told me, they taught me, they showed me, they did everything. I couldn’t have come into a better locker room.”

Hannan agrees, “Darryl Sutter was a great coach for me. He taught me, make sure you give it your all every day because it’s an honor playing in that league, and it takes work every single day. Luckily, we had a great mix of youth and experience, and those veteran guys really helped you learn the lessons that you need to, to have a long career,” he said.

Not only did the ’97 first-rounders join the Sharks together but they both retired Sharks and continue to build the organization all these years later. Hannan is with the Jr. Sharks and Marleau is a Sharks player development coach and hockey operations advisor.


With the opportunity to select a player who is a Junior Shark alum, Hannan spoke about the rise of hockey in California in the past few decades and what it means for the program.

“Hockey in California has been growing ever since the day Wayne Gretzky got traded from Edmonton to LA,” Hannan said. “You give a lot of credit to a guy like that for putting hockey on the map in California. It’s been growing ever since. We’ve got a bunch of great NorCal clubs from GSE (Golden State Elite Hockey) to Tri-Valley to Oakland, it’s just great to see the amount of young kids playing the sport nowadays.”

He knows the Sharks are building on this history, “Then at the Jr. Sharks, we’ve got a great facility here. I think it’s the best facility on the West Coast and to see the kids come in and experience the game that I took so much from and got so much enjoyment from and try and give a little bit of that experience back to these kids that are playing. Get out of the heat a little bit in California, get inside and get on the ice.”

Both Marleau and Hannan noted the “family” dynamic of the Sharks organization.

“I loved my time in San Jose,” Hannan said. “It was a great start to my career, and I bumped around for a bit and then to came back. This place has always been home. I’m a West Coast guy. Growing up in Vancouver, it’s close to my family. I met my wife here, the two years my kids had here at the end of my career, they got to come to games, and I got my 1,000th game and it just felt like home. It’s where my wife grew up, it feels like home and my boys started getting into hockey and doing that. And then it just felt like the right thing to do and we’re loving our time and our experience here.”

Marleau echoed the sentiment. “I think it’s just been a great organization. And there’s been people within the organization that make it like a home for me and all the players that come here. It’s a family there, that’s the biggest thing I can take from it. It’s one of those things where you want to be a part of it. You want to be with your family, and you want to get better with them.”


The Sharks will certainly be in a position to get better after the draft.

And if the Sharks eventual 2024 first-rounders, or other young players, are reading this, we asked both Hannan and Marleau to share their advice.

Hannan: “I think every older person says this, I say this to my kids, I say this to everybody: don’t take things for granted. Not that I did, but you don’t want to look back and wish you did something…And enjoy the time at the rink, everybody says that when they’re gone. The locker room, the days coming to the rink. Sometimes it can get wearing on you mentally and physically but those guys in the room, it’s the best experience in the world, and don’t take things for granted and work at your craft every single day and improve to get better.”

Marleau: “Come in with your eyes wide open, ears open, and take it all in. Find somebody you kind of want to model your game after, whether it’s someone on your team or someone in the league, and kind of watch the veteran guys, I think that’s what you can do.”

History will eventually reveal the success of the 2024 draft, but the Sharks hold a promising position with the opportunity to select high-value players that can make an impact on the organization in years to come, just like Marleau and Hannan did for hockey in San Jose that went beyond their NHL careers.

The 2024 NHL Draft is June 28-29 in Las Vegas. The Sharks Draft Party will be at SAP Center June 28 at 3 p.m. and fans can claim their free tickets at