Sharks

Eight former Sharks players fans can cheer for when NHL playoffs begin

Eight former Sharks players fans can cheer for when NHL playoffs begin

For only the third time since the turn of the century, the Sharks are not a playoff team. They won't play in another game that counts until December at the earliest, but that doesn't mean San Jose fans don't have something -- or someone -- to root for in the NHL's expanded playoff format.

A handful of former Sharks still are alive on one of the 24 teams that qualified for the postseason. Some of them recently wore the teal sweater, while others left San Jose long ago.

Here are eight former San Jose players that Sharks fans should be rooting for throughout the NHL playoffs:

Patrick Marleau

Duh.

Mr. Shark has now has gone through two tours of duty in San Jose, but he currently plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins after being acquired at the trade deadline. Though Sharks fans might find it difficult to cheer for the Penguins after they defeated their favorite squad in their one and only Stanley Cup Finals appearance, this might represent Marleau's last good chance to raise Lord Stanley.

After everything Marleau has done for the franchise, Sharks fans owe it to him to cheer him and -- to a lesser degree -- the Penguins on. And depending what happens this offseason, don't rule out a third go for Marleau in San Jose.

Joe Pavelski

Another duh.

The former Sharks captain came up in the clutch time and time again for San Jose, and it certainly was painful for their fans to see him go. Pavelski signed with the Dallas Stars in free agency last offseason, and while his production dropped off, it's well known that he provides plenty of value beyond the statsheet.

Pavelski recorded 100 points across 134 playoff games with the Sharks, and the playoffs arguably are where he does his best work. Much like Marleau, he endeared himself to Sharks fans over his long tenure with the franchise, and there's no question they'll be pulling for him to win his first cup.

Barclay Goodrow

He might have scored the most memorable goal in Sharks franchise history. His series-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 against the rival Golden Knights -- completing the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history -- forever cemented him in San Jose lore.

Goodrow might stand the best chance of any former Shark to win it all this year. Traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the deadline -- for a first-round pick -- he now plays for one of the prohibitive favorites. 

Joonas Donskoi

He scored the first game-winning goal in a Stanley Cup Finals game in Sharks franchise history, and the Avalanche arguably have enjoyed having him as much as San Jose missed him this past season after signing with Colorado in free agency. Donskoi scored a career-high 16 goals in just 65 games with the Avs during the regular season, offense the Sharks most certainly could have used.

No need to be bitter, though. Donskoi broke through with San Jose, and on Colorado, he finds himself on one of the favorites to win it all.

Brenden Dillon

The hard-hitting defenseman was a fixture on the Sharks' blue line for the majority of six seasons, and when it became clear San Jose wasn't headed to the playoffs, he was sent to the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline. The Caps ended their Stanley Cup drought two seasons ago, and enter the playoffs with a legitimate chance to make it two cups in three years.

Sharks fans have a reason to cheer for Washington beyond the fact that Dillon now plays there. In return for Dillon, San Jose received a 2020 second-round draft pick via Colorado as well as the Capitals' 2021 third-round pick. However, if the Caps win it all, that 2021 third-rounder turns into a 2020 third-rounder (belonging to the Arizona Coyotes).

Justin Braun

After spending the first nine seasons of his NHL career in San Jose, Braun was shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers last offseason in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 third-round selection.

A steady performer on the blue line, he brings ample playoff experience to the table -- 84 games to be exact. The Flyers finished in the top four of the Eastern Conference prior to the season being halted, and as such, they're not included in the qualifying round. Rather, they'll participate in a round-robin against the Lightning, Boston Bruins and Capitals to determine playoff seeding.

Dylan DeMelo

Sent to the Ottawa Senators as part of the trade package to acquire Erik Karlsson, DeMelo has since been traded again to the Winnipeg Jets prior to the deadline, giving him an opportunity to play for a playoff team.

DeMelo has been a solid performer since leaving San Jose, and as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, it's not out of the question that he could be brought back.

[RELATED: Kane discusses NHL's 'Hockey is for Everyone' movement]

Thomas Greiss

Selected by the Sharks in the third round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Greiss spent his fourth and final season in San Jose back in 2012-13. He has had his best years since, as the 34-year-old won the William M. Jennings Trophy last season, given annually to the goalie with the fewest goals scored against during the regular season.

Greiss currently is in his fifth season with the New York Islanders, but likely will serve as Semyon Varlamov's backup to begin the playoffs. Another unrestricted free agent this offseason, he potentially could return to the Sharks and provide some competition for Martin Jones.

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

It has been widely presumed that if Patrick Marleau returns for a 23rd NHL season, he will do so with the Sharks, back where it all began.

He still is without a Stanley Cup on his career résumé after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round of the NHL's expanded playoff format. The Penguins acquired him prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a 2021 third-round draft pick after he returned for his second go-around with San Jose early in the season.

Based on what his wife, Christina, tweeted Friday, it appears Marleau already has made up his mind about playing next season.

That really shouldn't come as a surprise. Though he isn't the top-end player he once was, Marleau showed this past season that he still has some left in the tank. And, on top of that, he only needs to play in 45 more games to pass NHL legend Gordie Howe for the most games played in league history.

Frankly, it would only be fitting if he set the record in a Sharks sweater. And now it would appear the ball is in San Jose's court as to whether or not Marleau will return to the franchise that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 Entry Draft.

Aside from the appetizing narrative, there's reason why Marleau might get a third go-around in teal. All indications are that the Sharks intend to return to playoff contention next season, but due to their salary structure, don't expect any large salaries to be brought in -- San Jose already has plenty of those. Consequently, the Sharks are going to need to fill the lineup with some minimum-salaried players.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl 'finally back' on ice after tearing ACL, MCL]

At this point, you can bet that money isn't a top consideration for Marleau. If a true Cup contender doesn't present him with an offer, it would be difficult to envision a more appealing destination for him than San Jose. Marleau could be signed for the veteran's minimum, and given he scored 10 goals in 58 games with the Sharks this year, that might be a pretty good value.

It's certainly possible the Sharks find a superior player to take Marleau's hypothetical spot, or would rather give it to a younger player that is part of the future.

If that's not the case, though, signing Mr. Shark makes an awful lot of sense.

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Sharks legend Patrick Marleau might have had his last decent chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL restart. Hopefully he gets another opportunity, because it ain't happening this year.

The fifth-seeded Penguins were stunned and upset by the 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round after the Habs advanced to the playoffs with a 3-1 series victory on Friday. Pittsburgh lost Game 1 and was never able to recover, thanks in large part to Montreal goalie Carey Price.

The Penguins scored just eight goals in the series, none of which were deposited by Marleau. In fact, the long-time Shark didn't record a single point across the four games. The Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for what is now confirmed to be a 2021 third-round draft pick, as San Jose wanted to give him an opportunity to check that last box on his career résumé.

Marleau now will become an unrestricted free agent. It has been widely presumed that if he indeed returns for a 23rd NHL season, it might come in a third go-around with the Sharks. San Jose finished dead last in the Western Conference this season, but the Sharks' record was largely impacted by injuries and they certainly could return to the playoffs next year.

Really, it would only be fitting if Marleau ended his career in teal.

As for the Sharks, the qualifying round has gone nearly as well as they could have hoped for. Of the four Pacific Division teams that were involved, only the Edmonton Oilers failed to advance.

Due to the wacky 2020 NHL draft lottery, each team eliminated in the qualifying round has a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. Whichever team lands it is widely expected to use it on consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl 'finally back' on ice after tearing ACL, MCL]

So, there's an 87.5 percent chance -- barring trades -- that Lafreniere won't immediately end up in the Sharks' division.

Given the season they had, they'll take any win they can get.