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Lightning Round: Joe Pavelski to hang up the skates

Feb 11, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) and Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It was the summer of 2019 and after 13 seasons and 963 games with the San Jose Sharks, Joe Pavelski was a free agent being courted by teams all across the league. One of those teams was the Tampa Bay Lightning. We even got the “I saw Pavelski having dinner with Julien BriseBois!” Tweet:

In the end, Pavelski spurned Tampa Bay and chose the Dallas Stars. His reason for going to Texas was pretty sound,

“I liked the goalies here. I liked the structure defensively. They play a lot of one-goal games and didn’t give up a lot of goals. And I always believe you need that, especially in the playoffs, to find those types of wins,” Pavelski explains. “There’s also some high-end talent on this team as well.”

Granted, he could have used those same exact words to describe signing with the Lightning, but alas he did not. At the time the Lightning were still in the running, our old friend Alan wrote a pretty detailed post on why the fit with the Bolts wasn’t perfect [please note some of the graphs he references did not make the transfer from the old platform..JG].

“Pavelski is a great player and in a vacuum, he would make an already great offensive team even more dynamic. But considering the cap implications and the amount of moving parts required to make him fit, the ramifications of a signing like this could be far reaching.”

While Dallas got him close to winning the elusive Stanley Cup that was missing from his resume, he never got the chance to raise it above his head. As we all know, Dallas came up short in the Bubble Cup to the Lightning. The Stars would also make it to the Western Conference Finals twice during Pavelski’s tenure, but failed to advance to the Final Round.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, the 39-year-old indicated that he was done:

He retired after playing in 1332 regular season games over 18 seasons with 1068 points (476 goals, 592 assists). The 7th-round draft pick of the Sharks reached the postseason in 14 of his years, played in 201 playoff games and added another 143 points to his total (74 goals, 69 assists). Of those 74 goals, 18 were game-winners.

In a few years, he’ll make an interesting hall-of-fame case as he didn’t win a Cup, nor did he claim any individual awards. Still, it was a very productive and consistent career as he eclipsed the 20-goal mark 14 times and finished in the top-10 of Selke Trophy voting twice. While he might never have been an MVP (he finished 7th in Hart Trophy voting in 2013-14 after putting up 41 goals), he was extremely reliable (the 1332 games played is 6th among active players and 60th all-time in the league).

The 3-year, $21-million deal that he signed with Dallas prior to the 2019-20 season as he entered his age-35 season could be a guidepost for Steven Stamkos, who is also entering his age-35 season. From age 35 to 39, Pavelski scored 121 goals in 369 games while consistently driving possession (Dallas had 54% of the shot attempts while he was on the ice over those five years).

After the deal expired, Pavelski did sign one-year deals to stay with Dallas as they chased the Cup. In 2022-23 his AAV was $6 million and this past season it was $5.5 million. While Pavelski and Stamkos aren’t similar players (Stammer has more offense and Pavs is better at keeping the puck out of his own net) it could be a similar path for the Lightning legend to follow in terms of money.

Congratulations to Joe Pavelski on a very, very good career.

Other Hockey News

Remember, we are still running the poll to decide which team Raw Charge will root for in the upcoming Stanley Cup Final. This poll will be running until tomorrow morning, so, if you haven’t already voted, cast forth your ballot!

Tampa ranked 8th best city for hockey fans [Wallet Hub]

The folks over at Wallet Hub churned through some numbers to determine which cities in the good ol’ USA are the “best” for hockey fans. Tampa comes in at 8th, the highest ranking among Sunbelt teams. Not having any nationally-ranked college hockey programs probably didn’t help out. Still, it’s a pretty good showing for the fans.

Buy/Sell: NHL Trade Rumors [Bleacher Report]

Lyle Richardson is buying the Tanner Jeannot rumors. It does make sense for the Lightning, especially if they need to maximize their cap space. The big question will involve the return Julien BriseBois can pull in. If he’s lucky, a couple of teams could get into a bidding war.

Looking back at the Brandon Hagel trade two years later [Bolts by the Bay]

A quick look at what might go down as one of Mr. BriseBois’ best deals (even if Hagel hasn’t raised the Cup yet).

Analyzing the top centers on the free agent market [The Athletic]

Yes, Steven Stamkos is on the list. Dom does think he’ll sign for below his market value, mainly due to some defensive issues that crept into The Captain’s game last season.

Pricing for the seats at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City has trickled out online. For the venue (which is an older building not currently built for hockey) it’s a bit steep, but it seems the demand is there from the locals. Now we just need the schedule released so that I can book my tickets to my old home town for a game.

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