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Besides the on-ice advantage of securing two first-rounders in one draft, it's also helpful for players to have someone they can lean on who can understand what they're going through. Marleau had Hannan, 2023 first-rounders Will Smith and Quentin Musty also have a bond, and the new pair will, too.

“I think that's huge and super important for them. Two players coming in at the same time, having similar experiences, learning the same things, going through the same issues,” Marleau said. “That's just going to make them better veteran leaders in the long run and make them better players. I'm coming with Scotty Hannan just to have someone your age to hang out with or talk to, and they're new to everything too. So you can pick up things from 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 straight into the NHL, I guess I was too young and naive to think I could do anything else. I came into training camp thinking, 'I'm going to make this team.' I must have done pretty well because they kept me,” Marleau said.

Playing against grown men, traveling and maintaining an 82-game schedule can be tough for anyone, especially an 18-year-old, but Marleau believes this generation is better prepared to make the jump.

“Now, because of the rule changes, they can excel right away, as opposed to when I first got here and you had to get bigger and stronger. Now that they're here, they're so skilled, they're probably a lot more developed than the players were when I first got here. So they can take that burden on themselves and use their skills to their advantage,” Marleau said.

Although Hannan reported on his first training camp, he did not actually stay with the NHL club until he was 20 years old.

The start of their careers was somewhat different, but both emphasized how important the veterans and staff were to their development.

“I think I had some of the best veteran leadership an 18-year-old could have when I came to the Sharks,” Marleau said. “They had so many veteran players. Kelly Hrudey took me my freshman year. Bernie Nicholls, Tony Granato, Gary Suter, Marty McSorley, all those guys were my idols growing up and I could sit in the locker room and go out to eat 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 dressing room.”

Hannan agrees: “Darryl Sutter was a great coach for me. He taught me that you have to give it your all every day because it's an honor to play in this league and it takes work every day. Fortunately, we had a great mix of young and experienced players and those veterans really helped you learn the lessons you need to have a long career,” he said.

Not only did the 1997 first-round picks come to the Sharks together, but they also finished their careers as Sharks and continue to build the organization all these years later. Hannan is with the Junior Sharks and Marleau is a player development coach and hockey operations consultant with the Sharks.

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