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Picking Joe Pavelski’s Bucky Barnes

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Captain America without Bucky Barnes just doesn’t work. Or, it doesn’t work now. It worked really well for 60 years before Barnes returned as the Winter Soldier and now the two are officially a package deal again. Thanks for sticking with me through that bit of backstory.

In celebration of the Fourth of July, we’re taking time to honor the San Jose Sharks Captain America, Joe Pavelski. We’ve looked at some of his best goals, seen how he’s grown up over the years and even tackled his origin story. Now we need to pick Pavelski’s Barnes. Let’s go through the candidates first.

Since Barnes is Pavelski’s partner, I figured looking at the Sharks with the most primary assists on his regular season goals over the years would be a good place to start. As expected, Joe Thornton tops the list with 52 primary assists, Patrick Marleau finishes in a distant second with 30 and Brent Burns rounds out the top three with 20.

So let’s start there. Thornton makes sense in a lot of ways. He’s surly, troubled and may actually be 100 years old. But I don’t think the relationship really works here. Thornton had already been a member of the Sharks for a couple years before Pavelski arrived and was drafted a full six years before The Cap. That holds true for Marleau, too. His assist totals benefit greatly from being around for a while, much like Thornton.

How about Burns? Now we’re talking. Burns was drafted the same year as Pavelski (2003) and his 20 primary assists came in a much smaller window than either of the veterans he sits behind. Pavelski is eight months older than Burns, which also fits into the comparison pretty nicely.

They also feature differing styles. Burns is a bombastic offensive forward while Pavelski is more of a sneaky scorer who uses great hands and vision to create goals. Burns is more likely to shoot a puck through you, while Pavelski prefers to snap a puck after he sneaks behind you into the slot.

The two also seem to be pretty good friends. At least, good enough that they combined with their kids for one of the best moments of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.

Yeah, this works.

Absolute perfection.

Happy Fourth of July everyone.