Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz will present 10 suggestions (one per weekday) for what the Sharks should do before training camp opens in mid-September. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
#3 – Sign Pavelski to an extension
The Sharks are set up nicely in the reduced new salary cap world, as they have just about $28 million committed to players after the 2013-14 season.
At the same time, that means they’ll have to lock up some of their key players for the long term. Joe Pavelski, who has one year remaining on his contract for $4 million, is one of them.
Pavelski is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so, much like they did with Marc-Edouard Vlasic last July, the Sharks could be looking to ink Pavelski to an extension over the summer. According to a source, the Sharks haven’t had many discussions with Pavelski’s agent just yet, but that talk is expected to heat up in the coming weeks. There’s no real rush to get the deal done, of course, as the team and the player/agent have an entire calendar year to hammer something out. Since Pavelski still has a year left on his current deal, the Sharks aren’t even permitted to finalize anything until after July 5.
It’s been a productive run for “Little Joe” since he agreed to a 4-year, $16 million contract with the Sharks before the 2010-11 season, and it’s safe to call Pavelski a bargain for what he’s accomplished. In 209 games over the last three years, Pavelski has 67 goals and 91 assists for 158 points. He’s also managed to stay healthy, playing in every regular season and playoff game in each of the last two seasons. He's missed just eight games total since the contract kicked in.
Pavelski showed his toughness at the end of the 2011-12 season, a year that he tied for the team lead in goals with 31, when it was revealed he was playing through three separate injuries by the time the playoffs ended – a fractured foot, a thumb ligament injury, and a sprained MCL.
In 2013, it was a bit of an odd year for Pavelski, as he struggled during the Sharks’ offensive ineptitude from February through mid-March. In 23 games from Feb. 2 – March 23, Pavelski had just three goals and two assists for five points. It was then that Todd McLellan shifted him to third line center – after he went scoreless in his previous eight games – balancing out the Sharks’ attack. From March 25 through the end of the regular season, Pavelski was a big reason for the team’s late surge, scoring nine goals and adding five assists in 18 games. He finished tied for third on the team in scoring with 31 points.
In the postseason, Pavelski, who was also one of the team's best penalty-killers this season, was the Sharks’ leading scorer with 12 points (4g, 8a) in 11 games.
Off of the ice, the likeable 28-year-old just goes about his business in a quiet way, and he’s become one of the Sharks’ fan favorites. In today’s sports world, that means something to teams that want to keep selling out their home buildings.
The Sharks are one of those teams, and Pavelski should be a part of it for years to come.