San Jose Sharks: Letting Joe Pavelski walk was the wrong decision in hindsight

San Jose Sharks (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
San Jose Sharks (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Looking back at the 2019-20 season, the last-place San Jose Sharks should have kept captain Joe Pavelski. Without him, San Jose missed the postseason for the first time since 2015.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the San Jose Sharks had missed the playoffs just once in the previous 15 years. If the NHL suspension ends and there are no more regular-season games played, the Sharks will finish with their worst point percentage (.450) since 2002-03.

San Jose was shocked to see Joe Pavelski leave in free agency for the Dallas Stars and fell to the bottom of the conference for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

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While Joe Thornton wants to remain with the Sharks, the team could move on from him and Martin Jones. While those two could not be Sharks in the 2020-21 season, let us take a look at if San Jose should have held onto Pavelski, who spent the first 13 years of his NHL career with the organization.

The Sharks selected the now 35-year-old in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Draft. During college, he played two years at the University of Wisconsin.

He was the team points leader for the 2006 Badgers, who won the National Championship. Also in 2006, he signed a two-year contract with the Sharks.

He was a large part of the team’s lone conference championship in 2016 as well as four of the organization’s six divisional titles.

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In 2015-16, Pavelski’s league-leading 11 game-winning goals got him to his first All-Star Game in his first year as the Sharks captain. The season finished with the first Stanley Cup Final appearance by the Sharks.

From 2011-12 to 2018-19, Pavelski was an ironman. He played fewer than the maximum number of games just twice: 81 games in 2016-17 and 75 games in his final year with the Sharks. He was a three-time All-Star, and he made the All-Star Game in his final season with San Jose.

Hockey-Reference also has the soon-to-be 15-year veteran with the fifth-best expected plus/minus player in NHL history. Sidney Crosby is the all-time leader of the pack in that category.

The Sharks sure missed their former captain during 2019-20. Logan Couture, a career Shark, took over as the captain at the beginning of the season and hopes to have a better second year as the team leader.

Altogether, the team’s lack of forward depth was evident and the Sharks could have used Pavelski’s veteran presence to help out the younger players on the roster.

Instead, their young forwards were left to flounder in roles they should have never been placed in. If Pavelski was still there, that wouldn’t have been as big of an issue.

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The Sharks made a mistake not re-signing Pavelski — that much is clear now.