The San Jose Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski has been a stable component to the roster for 13 years. He was an integral part to most of this franchises greatest successes and disheartening defeats. This year is set up to produce either of these results with Pavs having an impact on how things will shake out.
This season is a critical junction of his storied career. This year he is surrounded by arguably the most talent he’s ever been around in his 13 years on the San Jose Sharks. The trades for Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane indicate that the front office is committed to winning a Stanley Cup this year.
Not only does he have the weight of the teams expectations weighing him down, he’s also heading into a contract year. This is probably the last time he will be able to cash in on a significant payday considering he will be nearly 35 when free agency swings around next summer.
Surely Pavelski and his agent Dan Plante would love to sign a deal with the San Jose Sharks so this contractual predicament wouldn’t hang over both of their heads all season long. But it seems as though the Sharks front office is content with their strategy of entering the off-season with the most amount of money off the books as possible so they can be in the situation to extend Karlsson long term, or possibly upgrade that position in free agency with an addition of someone like Matt Duchene.
Nevertheless the Captain of the San Jose Sharks is a true professional and is 100% focused on what he’s trying to do on the ice on a nightly basis. So these “distractions” are merely just discourse that we can all yell at each other about on social media, and this article is more about Pav’s on ice performance. So let’s leave this type of talk for the off season where it belongs.
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Pivoting to the on ice antics of the former Wisconsin Badger: He has started off this season with one of his slowest scoring paces on record. He approaches his 16th game of the season with only 6 recorded points. All 6 of these points are from goals. His lack of assists is concerning but judging by the underlying numbers we should expect Pavelski to enter a scoring surge sooner rather than later.
Captain America has been really effective in the offensive zone even though his box score stats might not back up that sentiment. But in reality Pavelski’s presence on the opponents side of the ice has created plenty scoring opportunities. He places third of all San Jose Sharks in total shots and iSCF, while ranking second on the roster in iHDCF and rebounds created.
These stats exhibit Pavelski’s ability to seek out the open areas on the ice so he can better receive or distribute the puck and his uncanny aptitude to squeeze shots through shooting lanes.
His individual underlying numbers are tough to ignore he seems to have a knack for elevating the players around him. If you were to scroll through the line combinations tool provided by Corisca Hockey you would see that just about every line Pavelski has been apart of that group has provided consistent zone pressure and created dangerous scoring chances. When Pavs is on the ice the shot sharing metrics are heavily tilted in the San Jose Sharks favor.
His stoic and confident demeanor is extremely calming to the other players on the San Jose Sharks. Whenever this team is playing slowly or down on the scoreboard this team knows that their Captain will remain unwavered and stay focused on the task at hand. Even when he’s not producing at the rate we’ve come to expect from him his other intangibles make up for his lack of scoring touch.
Even with a semi slow start by Pavelski the coaching staff still obviously believes in his ability to produce on the ice. He is averaging 18:33 of ice time, according to Hockey Reference. He’s placed second on this forward group in ice time per game. We can see how the ice time is distributed among the forwards by using another Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) Hockeyviz tool that maps ice time out on a line graph that spans over 82 games.
Pavelski’s slowish start might be due to some overall bad puck luck while he is out on the ice. His individual shooting percentage is nearly 14%, but when his on ice shooting percentage is at a very low 5.61. His teammates just aren’t converting the chances created when Pavs is on the ice.
He’s also ran into some lackluster goal keeping in his own end of the ice. He’s credited with a sub .900% on ice save percentage. These two stats are likely to balance out, especially with a team that is as talented from top to bottom as the San Jose Sharks are.
This season is possibly the most important year for the San Jose Sharks Captain. The high expectations surrounding this team and the fact that he’s looking to cash in one more time in the free agent market. That’s a giant burden for anyone to shoulder let alone a veteran Captain. But his underlying numbers suggest he’s headed towards a surge in scoring sooner rather than later. So it’s just a matter of time until we see Pavelski return to his typical scoring pace.
Every stat used to write this post was provided by naturalstattrick.com, unless stated otherwise.