2011-2012 San Jose Sharks Season Review: Joe Pavelski

Full disclosure: Joe Pavelski is my favorite Sharks player so the glowing nature of this review isn't exactly stemming from an unbiased observer. Still, I don't think you need to be a charter member of the Joe Pavelski Fan Club to commend the brilliance of his 2011-12 season. In addition to leading the Sharks with a career-best 31 goals and +18 rating, Pavelski's underlying numbers were through the roof. Along with his frequent linemate and yesterday's review subject Joe Thornton, Pavelski posted some of the best puck possession numbers in the league while facing tougher competition than all but two NHL forwards and starting over 51% of his 5v5 shifts in the defensive zone. Among regular Shark penalty killers, only Patrick Marleau and Daniel Winnik were on the ice for fewer shots against per 60 minutes on the penalty kill. And only eight forwards in the league who averaged at least a minute per game on the power play were on the ice for more shots on goal per 60 in that game state.

Of course what needs to be emphasized is that, despite the fact many people around the hockey world may have only begun to take real notice of Pavelski this year (save for his hot streak in the playoffs a few years ago) thanks to his 30-goal season, Pavs has been doing this every year of the Todd McLellan era. Since 2008, Pavelski's Fenwick% (a shot differential metric that correlates very highly with scoring chances) ranks 9th in the league among forwards who have played at least 3000 minutes over that span. What's most telling is the comparison of the difficulty of minutes Pavelski has played to those of his peers:

Player Corsi Rel QoC DZone Start% Fenwick%
Jonathan Toews 0.603 38.1% 57.9%
Pavel Datsyuk 0.836 48.4% 57.5%
Johan Franzen 0.772 48.4% 57.2%
Justin Williams 0.471 47.3% 57.1%
Patrick Sharp 0.204 35.6% 57.0%
Chris Kunitz 0.415 43.6% 56.3%
Marian Hossa 0.578 43.4% 56.2%
Patrick Kane 0.414 32.8% 56.0%
Joe Pavelski 0.959 52.4% 55.8%
Henrik Zetterberg 1.128 50.8% 55.3%
Patrice Bergeron 0.949 54.4% 55.3%
Zach Parise 0.650 45.5% 55.2%
Patrik Elias 0.976 44.5% 55.0%
Mikael Samuelsson 0.558 49.9% 55.0%
Andrew Ladd 0.900 46.1% 55.0%

None of the eight forwards ranked ahead of Pavelski have even started half of their 5v5 shifts in defensive zone, compared to Pavelski's 52.4% d-zone start rate and none of them have faced the quality of competition Pavelski has, measured via Corsi Rel QoC. In fact, no one on this leaderboard has faced both a tougher quality of competition and started a greater percentage of their shifts in their own end of the rink than Pavelski. He's been one of the most dominant two-way players in the league over the past four seasons and it's about time he receives some recognition for that.

Joe Pavelski Statistical Overview

Season GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC DZone% Corsi Rel PDO P/60
2011-2012 82 15.27 1.633 51.4% +11.1 1010 1.92
2010-2011 74 13.91 0.581 55.5% +11.8 999 2.04
2009-2010 67 13.43 0.767 51.9% +5.5 1000 2.33
2008-2009 80 13.22 0.779 51.0% +5.1 991 1.82
2007-2008 82 10.48 0.875 43.3% -2.0 984 1.26

FTF Grade: A. As far as I'm concerned, Pavelski was the Sharks' MVP this season. He had the best season of an already terrific career in every significant respect. Trading him for a significantly inferior, one-dimensional, declining winger who averages almost twice Pavelski's cap hit and is signed from now until eternity would be, to put it bluntly, astronomically fucking stupid and by far the worst move of Doug Wilson's tenure. So let's hope that doesn't happen.

How would you grade Joe Pavelski's 2011-12 season?