Now with seven goals in as many games, Joe Pavelski looks like the franchise player the San Jose Sharks should build around — not Patrick Marleau and not Joe Thornton. This diminutive forward posted 25 goals each of the past two seasons, and could score another 20 or so in the playoffs if the Sharks can advance to the Stanley Cup.
Most of the focus coming into this playoffs surrounded how the top players would produce. Now, all eyes look to Pavelski as he meshes well with Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Devin Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe at even-strength and on the powerplay. In fact, when looking at his career path you can see the pedigree. Due to his his 5’11″ stature the Sharks took him with a 7th round pick but he would likely been selected higher had he been drafted after the lockout.
Do not let the late-round selection or height scare you, this kid is legitimate. Would you base Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Lundqvist or Henrik Zetterberg based on the same standing?
Pavelski just wrapped up his fourth professional regular season. Looking at his stats compared to fellow Team USA teammate Zach Parise, little Joe could eclipse the 70 point marker next season with extended playing time. Parise did not break out until his fourth full professional season for those keeping score at home.
The Sharks need to decide whether they prefer keeping Evgeni Nabokov or Marleau, which might be an easier decision than previously expected. Logan Couture simply dominated the AHL this entire season and could be ready for a second line audition. This move would push Pavelski to the right of Heatley and Thornton.
Keep an eye on the monster that is little Joe (I know his play will infuriate our Webmaster over this next playoff series) he could be the biggest sleeper of next season.