The San Jose Sharks were bounced from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs despite taking a 3-0 series lead against the eventual Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Kings, and after the loss it, was expected that big changes would be made.
Since the Sharks' season ended, it is fair to say that no changes have been made. Doug Wilson is still going to be the team's general manager, Todd McLellan will still be behind the bench and for now, Joe Thornton will remain the team's captain.
Several names have been in play over recent weeks as potential trade assets, including Thornton, per Mercury News' David Pollak, and Patrick Marleau, per The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta. However, both have a no-trade clause that could make it hard to deal them, so should the Sharks consider moving someone like Joe Pavelski?
It sounds radical at first, considering the success Pavelski had last season, but that is the exact reason why they should consider selling high this offseason.
As mentioned above, both Thornton and Marleau's names have floated around the rumor. However, both are also older players with a cap hit of just under $6.8 million. While both Marleau and Jumbo Joe are quality players, San Jose is unlikely to receive as high of a return because of their age, cap hit and their clauses that literally tie Wilson's hands.
Thornton could arguably land a big return because of his status as one of the league's top playmakers, but odds are teams would rather deal for Jason Spezza, 30, or Ryan Kesler, soon to be 30, over the soon-to-be 35-year-old.
Therefore, it makes more sense to deal Pavelski because it is unlikely that he replicate the success of 2013-14 in 2014-15. While Pavelski is a very good player, here is a look at some career data that supports the argument that this year he may have overachieved.
|Joe Pavelski's NHL Career|
His career numbers show that this was an extremely good year for Pavelski, partially because his minutes increased when Logan Couture went down with an injury. Pavelski increased his goals per game by 0.12 points when you compare to his last 82-game season, and that is something that may be hard to replicate in San Jose next season.
This year's minutes weren't the highest of his career, but he also benefited from the additional increase of minutes on the power play that Couture usually would have taken.
Sixteen of Pavelski's 40 goals game on the power play, and 31 of his total 79 points came while the Sharks had a man advantage. If Couture doesn't get injured, that likely doesn't happen Pavelski.
If all things remain the same, he is likely to slot back in as a third line center for opening night of the 2014-15 tilt.
There is a chance he could take Brent Burns' place on the wing since the bearded behemoth is returning to defense. Either way, on this current San Jose Sharks team, he isn't in the best position to be a top-end offensive contributor.
On another team, however, he could come close to replicating this performance if he was given similar ice time. That is why the Sharks should sell high on him, because this past season, he showed that he could be a solid top-six performer.
He could regress slightly in terms of production next season, but he has a better chance of being successful on another team that on the Sharks where he will be behind a log jam of other players.
Pavelski had success in previous seasons, but they were nothing close to a 40-goal and 79-point season. This was partially because he didn't have as big of an opportunity in terms of playing time, and that could change on another team. He will turn 30 in July, and his five-year, $30 million contract will kick in for the start of the season.
It is a reasonable rate that suits the veteran two-way scorer that can play any forward position, and Wilson should get the most for one of his assets. Couture and Tomas Hertl are the future of this team.
While Pavelski is still young, when you compare him to Thornton and Marleau, the Sharks would be better served dealing him for someone that can help get the job done while the team's Stanley Cup window is open.
The Sharks could also deal him for a package of players and prospects, and then take the cap savings and put it toward a player like Thomas Vanek, a pure offensive player that could add another level to the Sharks offense.
No matter how you look at it, the Sharks would have more options for getting a favorable return if they tried to sell high on Pavelski. They could do just as well by keeping him, but a couple of years from now, they could regret not stocking up on some younger players while his value was at his highest.
Putting Pavelski on the market would make him the No. 1 center available, because he has a history of moderate success and more importantly, a clean bill of health. Both Spezza and Kesler have an injury history, and their effectiveness from age 30 to 35 will be likely lower than Pavelski's.
That would put him at the top of his value, and it would give the Sharks the best chance to make some meaningful change that strengthens them this year, and for the future.
Right now, this is just an idea, and nothing more. It is another thing to consider and an alternate plan the Sharks could look into as they try to build a team that will be good enough to win its first Stanley Cup in 2014-15.