Doug Wilson made his biggest move of a somewhat quiet offseason today, signing center Joe Pavelski to a five-year, $30 million contract extension. The deal ensures Pavelski, who was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July, will stay in teal through his 34-year-old season.
Following the eight-year, $47 million extension Dustin Brown signed with the Kings two weeks ago, we wondered aloud how much it would cost the Sharks to lock up their own two-way American long term. Most reasonable comparables suggested a cap hit right in the $6 million range but a term closer to the maximum eight years teams are allowed to offer their players under the new collective bargaining agreement. So in that sense, particularly in comparison to the contracts signed by Brown, Travis Zajac and Patrice Bergeron who all score, drive play and log minutes at similar rates to Pavelski, this seems like a better deal than expected for the Sharks.
It still carries risk, as forwards tend to peak well prior to their 30-year-old season so it's likely San Jose will be paying for at least a couple of sub-par years at the end of this deal but those are the breaks when buying up years of unrestricted free agency and it's hard to argue he wouldn't have received a seven-year deal on the open market. As for the cap hit, the Sharks stand to gain quite a bit of space next offseason when Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle's contracts expire while, pelvic floor willing, Martin Havlat will likely be the target of a compliance buyout. It's probable that at least a few of their veterans will be re-signed but with the cap ceiling rising and Thornton, Marleau and Boyle likely to come cheaper than their current hits, they should be okay.
After three years (with a fourth still upcoming) of having Pavelski on the team at the bargain price of $4 million, the Sharks finally had to pony up. Marginal overpays for your best players, particularly ones as versatile as Pavelski, aren't really worth bemoaning. It's the substantial overpays for marginal contributors that hurt. What's important is that the Sharks now have Pavelski and Couture locked up beyond the 2014 Capocalypse and stand to remain a competitive team.