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If Not Thornton or Marleau, Who Would Sharks Have Picked in 1997 Draft?

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Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

In the summer of 1996, the San Jose Sharks called Ray Payne back.

Payne was Hockey Canada’s Director of Scouting, but before that, he had been San Jose’s Eastern Scouting Supervisor from 1990-94.

This time, the Sharks named Payne their Chief Scout in the lead-up to the 1997 NHL Draft.

For the San Jose Sharks, of course, the 1997 NHL Draft would be a historic one.

With the first-overall pick, the Boston Bruins selected Joe Thornton. In November 2005, the Boston traded Thornton to San Jose, where he would become the franchise’s lone Hart Trophy winner and all-time assists leader.

With the second-overall pick, the Sharks selected Patrick Marleau. Marleau is the franchise’s all-time games played, goals scored, and points leader.

Both still active, Jumbo and Patty to the San Jose Sharks are like bacon and eggs — you can’t think of one without the other.

But who would the Sharks have selected if they had lost the lottery and dropped to third-overall pick?

Payne revealed who was third on San Jose’s draft list — Thornton was first, Marleau was second — and other stories from the 1997 Draft, like what was the sophomoric nickname that the scouts gave Marleau? What prank was Thornton a master of? And why did Olli Jokinen drop down San Jose’s draft list?

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