An impressive combination of strength and skill, since entering the league in 1990-91, Owen Nolan has moved closer to becoming one of the game's dominant power forwards.
Born in Belfast, Ireland, Nolan immigrated to Canada as a boy. He starred in junior with the OHL's Cornwall Royals and scored 110 points in 58 games during the 1989-90 season. The Quebec Nordiques didn't hesitate to call his name when they picked first overall at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Nolan started slowly as a rookie in 1990-91 on the NHL's weakest teams. He blossomed in his second year with 42 goals and participated in his first All-Star Game. A solid performer in 1992-93 as the Nordiques began to improve but missed most of the next season as a result of injuries. During the lockout-shortened season, he scored 30 goals in only 46 games as Quebec finished with the most points in the Eastern Conference.
The young talent remained with the franchise when it relocated to Colorado but was traded to San Jose early in the 1995-96 season for offensive defenceman Sandis Ozolinsh. San Jose's representative at the All-Star Game in both 1996 and 1997, Nolan gained confidence by helping Canada win the gold medal at the World Championships in 1997.
When the Sharks improved in 1997-98, Nolan struggled with only 14 goals. The fiesty winger was a 19-goal scorer in 1998-99 and relegated to playing a strong two-way game for the Sharks.
Nolan's star shone brightly in 1999-00 when he finished second in the NHL with 44 goals. He also led the league with 18 power-play goals and eight points while shorthanded.
In the summer of 2001, Nolan was one of eight players named to Canada's Winter Olympic Hockey Team. At Salt Lake City, he earned three assists in Canada's successful campaign in capturing the gold medal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs obtained Nolan from the Sharks days before the 2003 NHL trade deadline. Upon his arrival with the Leafs, Nolan has continued to provide grit and strong veteran leadership on the ice, while surpassing the 700 point plateau in 2003-04.
The Toronto Maple Leafs obtained Nolan from the Sharks days before the 2003 NHL trade deadline, as a Maple Leaf Nolan surpassed the 700 point plateau. However, his performance in Toronto was rather disappointing as the gritty Nolan suffered from a series of injuries.
Following his stint in Toronto, Nolan signed with the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2006. As a Coyote, Nolan played in 76 games and scored 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points. In the summer of 2007, the fifteen-year NHL veteran signed a one-year contract with the Calgary Flames. Nolan's gritty play helped the Flames earn a playoff spot, facing-off with his former team the San Jose Sharks. Despite Nolan's game-winning goal in game 3 of the series, the Flames lost out and the Belfast, Ireland native signed in the off-season with the Minnesota Wild.