The man who’s never known life outside of San Jose in the NHL is heading deep into the heart of Texas.
Joe Pavelski joined the Dallas Stars in the Central Division on a three-year, $21 million deal.
That AAV means a $1 million pay hike for Pavelski who scored 38 goals and had 64 points last season in 75 games.
Pavelski, 34, has played all of his 13 seasons in the NHL with the Sharks, scoring 355 times and adding 406 assists in 963 games.
[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]
“It is not every day a player the caliber of Joe becomes available, and we’re thrilled to be able to add him to our club,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “He is a leader in every sense of the word, and a proven goal-scorer that continues to produce at an elite level. In meeting with him, it is evident how much he values winning, and that mindset will mesh perfectly with our leadership group.”
For San Jose, the loss of Pavelski was summed up by GM Doug Wilson in a statement.
“From being a seventh-round draft pick in 2003 to serving as captain of our team for the last four seasons, Joe Pavelski’s place in Sharks history is firmly cemented and he will be sorely missed,” Wilson said. “Joe led by example, not only as a player but as a person, and the impact he has had on this franchise and his teammates will be felt for years to come.
“Under a cap system, these extremely difficult separations are a reality and, unfortunately, we could not find common ground on dollars and term to keep Joe in San Jose. However, like many other players around the NHL, Joe has earned the right to become a free agent. We respect his decision and want to thank Joe, his wife Sarah and son, Nate, for 13 wonderful seasons. They will always be part of the San Jose Sharks family.”
It remains to be seen how age will affect the former Sharks captain. If Pavelski can squeeze out a couple of more seasons like his last, it’s a big get for the Stars who need more scoring after finishing 28th in goals-for this past season.
Dallas’s defense and goaltending is very good — they allowed the second-fewest goals-against last year. But when Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn or Alex Radulov had an off night, secondary scoring was often nowhere to be found.
But the Stars may just be on the cusp. If Ben Bishop can stay healthy and they can find more goals, the wins will come. With some of the Central’s superpowers weakening — Nashville (P.K. Subban gone) and Winnipeg (Jacob Trouba gone), namely — it’s as good a time as any for the Stars to stockpile resources for a push.
And they now have Corey Perry, too.
Perry signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million plus an extra $1.75 million available in performance-based incentives.
Perry was put on the free agent market after having been bought out by the Anaheim Ducks, the only NHL team he’s known in his tenured career.
“Corey is a warrior in every sense of the word and his experience playing in big situations will be a big asset to our group,” said Nill. “He has a championship pedigree and this addition gives us tremendous flexibility with how we can manage our forward group.”
Perry comes at a bargain for the Stars. And he says he’s ready to win a Cup again. His head might be. Whether or not his body cooperates is another issue altogether, but time will tell. Perry on a friendly deal is worth the risk.
Nill wasn’t done with Pavelski and Perry. The Stars have also signed defenseman Andrej Sekera to the mix.
Sekera, 33, comes with a one-year deal worth $1.5 million along with an extra $500,000 to be earned in bonus money. Sekera has missed considerable time over the past two seasons, with injuries limiting him to just 60 games.
The move is low-risk for the Stars, who get a solid d-man when healthy. The only question now is if he can stay out of the infirmary.
Meanwhile, it looks like the Tampa Bay Lightning were attempting to make another withdrawal from their money tree for Pavelski, but it just didn’t work out.
Oh, and if you’re wondering why Pavelski and the Sharks couldn’t get a deal done, the almighty salary cap had something to do with it. Or everything.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.