Sharks

Sharks' Joe Thornton joined Hall-of-Fame company with 400 career goals

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Sharks' Joe Thornton joined Hall-of-Fame company with 400 career goals

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Joe Thornton's 400th career NHL goal tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

Joe Thornton picked a great time to notch his 400th career goal.

Back on Nov. 13, 2018, the Sharks welcomed the Nashville Predators to SAP Center, who led the NHL with 27 points at the time. At first, San Jose appeared to be more than up to the task, opening up a 3-0 lead in the first period, which easily could have been larger.

Then, it all started going south.

The Sharks were held scoreless in the second period while the Predators climbed all the way back to tie the score. Less than three minutes into the third, Nashville took its first lead of the night.

For the next 10 minutes of game action, it sure seemed like San Jose would end up kicking itself for blowing a three-goal lead. But then Joe Pavelski tied the score at 4-4 with a goal with just under seven minutes remaining. 13 seconds later, it was Thornton's turn to play the hero.

Before the Predators had a chance to catch their breath, Justin Braun found Marcus Sorensen with a stretch pass from San Jose's own defensive zone. As Sorensen broke into Nashville territory, he made a Thornton-like cross-ice pass to the former Hart Trophy winner, who promptly fired the puck into the back of the net to retake the lead.

The Sharks would hold on the rest of the way to secure the thrilling 5-4 victory over a conference rival, and while the two points surely came in handy, Thornton's 63rd career game-winning goal stood out for another reason.

It was the 400th of his career.

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Don't remember? Don't worry. This memorable game will be re-aired Friday at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports California.

While there have now been 99 players throughout NHL history to accumulate at least 400 goals, there are only 13 who have totaled at least 1,000 assists. By scoring the game-winner that night, Thornton became the 11th player in NHL history to accomplish both feats.

Of the 11 players included on that list, only Thornton and Jaromir Jagr have not been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Jagr called it a career in 2017-18, so it's only a matter of time until he joins the group. Thornton says he feels like he has multiple seasons left in him, but the same goes for him.

NHL draft lottery: How Sharks will be impacted by league's new setup

NHL draft lottery: How Sharks will be impacted by league's new setup

Twenty-four NHL teams can now turn their full attention to the restarting of the currently-paused season. The Sharks are not one of them.

Having slipped into last place in the Western Conference just prior to the indefinite pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, San Jose did not qualify for the expanded postseason structure NHL commissioner Gary Bettman described Tuesday. The Sharks' season, as well as those of the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, are now over.

Which means, it's time to turn their attention to the offseason.

San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has his work cut out for him. The Sharks finished the abbreviated 2019-20 campaign with their worst points percentage in his 16-year tenure at the helm. There are some obvious needs that must be addressed. Of course, they won't be able to utilize their own first-round draft pick -- which they gave up in the trade to acquire Erik Karlsson -- in order to do so.

Bettman announced that the first phase of the 2020 NHL Draft lottery will be held on Friday, June 26, and really, there is no change as far as San Jose is concerned. As the team with the third-worst points percentage, the Sharks' first-round pick (owned by Ottawa) will have the same odds of landing first overall -- 11.5 percent -- as it would have anyway. Obviously, though, no matter where it ends up, the selection will belong to the Senators.

15 teams in total will be included in the lottery, which is the same as prior years. The seven teams that didn't qualify for the expanded playoffs will be joined by the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round. It's fairly complex, but as it relates to the Sharks, their first-round pick automatically will fall within the top six overall selections. Ottawa's own first-round pick is guaranteed to fall within the top five, and combined with San Jose's first-rounder, there is a great chance the Senators will have two picks in the top five, if not the top three.

That's tremendous for Ottawa, and might make things look even bleaker for the Sharks. But, the fact of the matter is, we've known San Jose wouldn't have its own first-rounder for quite some time now, and more importantly, it was the right decision to make. Hindsight is 20/20 and it's easy to question it now, but players like Karlsson are not a dime a dozen. He is on the shortlist of the best defensemen in the NHL, and the package San Jose gave up for him -- even including the 2020 first-rounder -- absolutely was worth it. You make that trade 100 times out of 100, and the same goes for the extension, too.

So, yes, the Sharks likely will miss out on a chance to acquire one of the top overall talents in the upcoming draft, but that can't be viewed in a vacuum. Not to mention, San Jose actually does own a first-round pick in the draft, which they acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Barclay Goodrow at the trade deadline. 

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The Lightning had the second-best points percentage in the Eastern Conference when the season was paused, so it is impossible that their first-round selection will fall within the first 15 overall picks, as they're not subject to the qualifying round. The earlier Tampa Bay gets eliminated, however, the earlier their first-rounder -- owned by the Sharks -- will fall in the first round.

So, Sharks fans, rather than waste energy lamenting the first-rounder San Jose doesn't have, google Karlsson highlights and root against the Lightning. That ought to make you feel a little better.

Vegas Knights troll Sharks, LA Kings after making 2019-20 NHL playoffs

Vegas Knights troll Sharks, LA Kings after making 2019-20 NHL playoffs

You don't kick a team when they are down.

Clearly, the Vegas Golden Knights didn't get that memo.

During the NHL's Return To Play announcement Tuesday, the Golden Knights sent out a tweet directed at the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, two of their Pacific Division rivals.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that 24 of the 31 teams will qualify for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Seven teams, including the Sharks and Kings, will not resume playing and will prepare for the NHL draft lottery and the 2020-21 season.

When the NHL was paused on March 12 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Sharks held the worst record in the Western Conference.

Adding insult to injury, the Sharks won't even get to keep their lottery draft pick as it will go to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Erik Karlsson trade.

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While the Sharks and Kings sit at home, Vegas will be one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference, and will play in a round-robin tournament with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars to determine seeding.

Sharks fans didn't need another reason to root against the Golden Knights, but Vegas gave it to them.