October 17, 2011

Little Joe, Big Impact - The Sharks Love this Guy

For years, the San Jose Sharks were a team meant to contend for the Stanley Cup. General Manager Doug Wilson created a core for the Sharks by making blockbuster trades for stars, or signing the right role players to the team; yet the draft also has a hand in helping this team be so great, and its the late round gem being highlighted today.

Joe Pavelski is an American born hockey player. He was raised in Wisconsin and even played college hockey for the University of Wisconsin where he helped the team win the 2006 championship. Little Joe was drafted in 2003 by the Sharks in the 7th round, going 205th overall. For being such a late pick he has made his impact on the Sharks.

Joe is one of those players that can play all roles: Power Play, Short Handed and 5v5. He has played center for most of his career with the Sharks, bouncing around from 3rd line duties to 2nd line center, now as the right wing for the top line. His hockey awareness on the ice really separates himself from the average player, he may not be the fastest skater out there but he seems to know where to be to block a passing lane or catch a pass from an opposing player. Another plus to this guy: he is also one of the Sharks Shoot out specialists.

Pavelski played his first game for the Sharks in 2006 and scored his first goal as well. He made quite an impact for his first stint with 14 goals and 14 assists in 46 games. In the 2007-2008 season he played all 82 games, scoring 19 goals and 21 assists; increasing 12 points from his previous year; the year after he increased to 59 points. The last 2 seasons Little Joe did not play the full 82 games; in 2009-2010 he was limited to just 67 games but still put up decent numbers, scoring 51 points (25 goals and 26 assists). Yet in 74 games of the 2010-2011 season he scored 66 points, increasing his number again. (this was while he played as a 3rd line center for part of season as well).

The real value of Pavelski is not just that he can put up decent numbers in the regular season; he is a legend in San Jose as being a playoff hero. Around San Jose he has been called "captain clutch" for his timely goals or you will hear the name “the Big Pavelski for scoring the game winning goals and being the kick to start the Sharks offense. He is a player that you can trust throughout the playoffs for a sometimes inconsistent Sharks team.

This Season Coach Todd McClellan decided to move the natural center to play right wing along side of the Captain Joe Thornton and left wing speedster, also center, Patrick Marleau. This line has it all; puck control, hockey awareness, defensively responsible, and bonus each can take face offs!

Each year, after 06-07 season, he has played he has taken over 200 shots and now that he has premier play-maker Big Joe Thornton passing the puck he has the potential to score upwards his career high of 25 goals. This young winger is entering his prime years and now playing top line minutes he can flourish and really show fans and viewers what he is made of. 

My prediction for Little Joe: Another 60-70 points is in store for him, especially with his new line mates.

- Justin Stefani

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