Joe Pavelski joined the Dallas Stars as a grizzled veteran of hockey’s old school era. Afraid he was losing his scoring touch, the San Jose Sharks let him go for nothing.
Today, the 39-year-old is leading the young Stars in scoring, and he is on pace to smash through the 30-goal mark and, possibly, record 40 goals for the second time in his career.
The former San Jose captain was viewed as replaceable by the only franchise he had ever known in the summer of 2019. The Sharks reached the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that year and Pavelski was a catalyst. Pavelski collected nine points, but he was knocked out and bloodied because a face-off scramble saw the Shark get lifted in the air and dropped head-first on the ice in game 7 of the First Round. Cody Eakin, the Vegas Golden Knights center who battled Pavelski for the draw, was assessed a five minute major penalty with 9:13 left in regulation.
The Sharks scored four times with the man-advantage as Pavelski sat in the locker room before his team ultimately sealed victory in overtime. Pavelski came back to play in the next round, but he wasn’t at 100%.
Fast forward to the first day of free agency. Pavelski signs a three-year contract with the Stars worth $21M at a $7M AAV on July 1, 2019. Radio stations and hockey pundits alike were surprised by the contract and the destination.
Ever since coming to Dallas, Pavelski has been a mentor for the younger forwards. Not only can he teach them how to be pros during a grueling 82-game season, he can also keep up with the young legs on the ice. Pavelski typically plays with Jason Robertson (24) and Rope Hintz (27) on the first line, which has 87 points altogether. The trio is first, second, and fourth in team scoring, respectively. Matt Duchene, who is fits into the system like a glove, ranks third.
The ageless wonder tallied five points in his last five games.
In Pavelski’s first season as a Star, the club went to the Stanley Cup Finals. His former team has failed to qualify for the playoffs ever since his departure.
Pavelski is currently playing on his one-year extension that he signed in Mar. 2022.
Are the Stars and Pavelski going to part ways in 2024? Will that be the same mistake the Sharks made in 2019, which ended nearly 15 straight playoff seasons (Sharks missed the playoffs in 2015)? Thirteen of those playoff campaigns featured Joe Pavelski.