Joe Pavelski became the latest Shark to take his talents overseas for the duration of the NHL lockout, as CSN Bay Area reports that he signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. Overall, Pavelski is the first Shark to sign in Russia and the eighth to sign abroad, joining Joe Thornton and Logan Couture in Switzerland; Jason Demers and Tommy Wingels in Finland; Douglas Murray in Sweden; Michal Handzus in Slovakia; and T.J. Galiardi in Germany. In fact, of the Sharks' slated top nine forwards, only Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat (who is reportedly back home in his native Czech Republic but has yet to make a decision on signing with a team there) have yet to join a European club for the lockout.
Other locked out NHLers on the Dinamo roster include superstar Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, and the Winnipeg Jets' Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton. Former NHLers Lukas Krajicek, Geoff Platt and Cory Murphy are on the team too. There's no question that with the NHL not in session, the KHL is currently the best league in the world with NHL stars like Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Zdeno Chara, Rinne, Alexander Semin, Mikhail Grabovski, Nail Yakupov, Jakub Voracek, Andrei Markov and Victor Hedman all opting to ply their trade there until the Players' Association and league ownership reach an agreement. You can add the Sharks' arguable 2011-12 MVP Joe Pavelski to the list, and cross your fingers that he doesn't end up injured or that the fact that a significant percentage of the league has now signed overseas isn't a clear indication the players aren't expecting a season.