Joe Pavelski is a great hockey player. This might come as a surprise to those of you who hate America or have never watched a San Jose Sharks ice hockey game before, but not the crack staff at FearTheFin.com! Nor, as it turns out, to the Professional Hockey Writers Association, who named Pavelski to the second NHL all-star team at the left wing position.
Pavelski was beaten only by Jamie Benn, who scored fewer goals and a worse relative corsi rating. This means the entire voting was unequivocally a sham and indicates a strong Canadian bias in the voting. But enough about the perceived injustice of this award that means almost nothing since, you know, they didn't play an all-star game this year (so weird they decided to take the year off, what with Olympic hockey being cancelled and all that); let's talk about how dope Pavelski was this season.
In short: He was pretty dope. He was behind just Joe Thornton and Brent Burns in relative corsi and his 41 goals led the Sharks (and landed him behind only Corey Perry and Alex Ovechkin league-wide). While he best serves the Sharks as a third-line center, his agent can't be disappointed when Pavelski was placed up top with Thornton and Burns. That line rivals the best in hockey, even if it hurts the Sharks in terms of team-depth. Here's an example of the kind of goal Pavelski can score while on the ice with Jumbo Joe.
Pavelski's 41 goals are his most ever -- 10 more than his second-highest scoring campaign in 2011-12. While I would be happy to be proven wrong, I don't think it's a stretch to say that he will probably not sniff 40 goals again. His shooting percentage of 18.2 percent is the highest in his career by a whopping 5.9 percent. His career average is 11.1 percent, and I'd expect him to be somewhere in the range of that number next season.
Back in December I wrote about Logan Couture's hard-luck shooting, so here's a number that should help drive that point home. Couture took eight more shots than Pavelski last season; in doing so, he scored 18 fewer goals. That's an incredible swing in luck from one player to another as Couture shot a respectable 9.9 percent (third best on the team amongst guys who played 60+ games), but that was obviously dwarfed by Pavelski's mark.
Pavelski's prolific goal scoring earned him seventh place in Hart voting and eighth in Selke voting. This was decried a bit by the stats community, which (accurately) identified Pavelski as not even the best Shark, let alone a top-10 player in the league. While it's true that Pavelski was not the best possession-driving forward on the team (that's that one guy Doug Wilson is trying to trade), it's undeniable that his 41 goals, percentage driven though they were, added a heap of value.
In cases like Pavelski's, the 41 goals indicate how valuable he was to the Sharks last season, while his inflated shooting percentage give an idea of what to expect from the excellent forward next season. In an off-season that has been forgettable at best, it's nice to remember the awesome parts of the Sharks; and Pavelski is hella awesome. Here, go watch all of his goals from last season.