This is the fourth in a series of articles asking fans to vote on the best Sharks player at each position as the club enters its 20th year. (Note that players must have spent two years with the Sharks organization and two years in the designated position to be considered. No player was placed in multiple positions.) Owen Nolan, Patrick Marleau
and Joe Thornton
were the fan favorites for the three forward positions.
Now it’s time for the defensemen. The category was broken down into two categories within the group – best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman. This time it’s all about the offense.
The Sharks have had their share of talented blueliners over the year and the ones making their case carrying the puck are Dan Boyle
, Sandis Ozolinsh, Doug Wilson, Rob Blake and Gary Suter. This is arbitrary, but there was one overriding stat – they all rank in the top-five in points per game. Many others rank higher in total points, but that’s due to length of service, not high end production in a given stretch.
DAN BOYLE (153 GP, 31 G, 84 A, 115 PTS, 122 PIM)Dan Boyle
’s two years in San Jose have seen him compile an amazing .75 points per game. Those numbers would be good for a forward. He has amassed consistent 57- and 58-point seasons with San Jose and led all blueliners in scoring both times. He also made his first All-Star appearance last year and is one of just four Sharks defensemen to do so. Then there’s the fact that during his San Jose tenure, he helped Canada win gold last year in Vancouver. By the end of his career, he may remove this question for debate for a long time.SANDIS OZOLINSH (212 GP, 46 G, 86 A, 132 PTS, 122 PIM)
Ozolinsh has two tenures with San Jose, beginning and ending his NHL career in teal, but is best remembered for his initial run of two-plus seasons. During that time, he set a record that stands today of 64 points in a season by a blueliner. No other Sharks player even reached the 40-point marker until 2005-06. During that magical 1993-94 season, he represented San Jose at the All-Star Game and helped make San Jose an annual playoff threat. If he had shot the puck in that playoff game against Toronto instead of trying to pass it, he may have helped hoist a Cup in San Jose instead of Denver and may never have left. Ozolinsh’s .62 points per game average is still the second-best of all-time in San Jose.
ROB BLAKE (146 GP, 17 G, 58 A, 75 PTS, 170 PIM)
A bit overshadowed by Boyle’s two-year run, Blake still has the third best points per game mark in Sharks history (.52). He may have just retired, but there’s an intangible that must be noted: he was selected to wear the “C” for San Jose last year as the club reached the Western Conference Finals for the second time. There’s no doubt, that besides his point production, his leadership was a major factor in the Sharks getting one step from the Stanley Cup Finals. DOUG WILSON (86 GP, 12 G, 36 A, 48 PTS, 66 PIM)
Wilson will likely be remembered long term for his tenure as the club’s general manager, but it was his offensive prowess that led to him being the Sharks first participant in the NHL All-Star Game. Injuries forced Wilson to retire before he ever played inside HP Pavilion, but had health not been a factor, he might still be running the power play as he posted a .56 points per game average, good for third best all-time.
GARY SUTER (227 GP, 22 G, 29 A, 101 PTS, 193 PIM)
Suter’s point production was a little more understated, but he still ranks fifth all-time with a .44 points per game average. He also has the longest tenure of any player in the top-five in that category. Suter’s offense was more consistent than highlight level, but the averages showed he was productive.