It’s been a long time coming, but after an 11-game drought, Joe Pavelski has finally scored his 300th NHL goal. The Sharks’ captain collected the puck behind the net, dragged it in front, and wristed it top-shelf past the Florida Panthers’ Roberto Luongo, becoming just the third active American-born player to join the 300 club (after Phil Kessel and Zach Parise).
Pavelski’s accomplishment is remarkable by any standard, but it’s beyond stunning for a seventh rounder taken with the 205th overall pick. Despite being dismissed by scouts as being too small and too slow, Pavelski combined an elite shot with incredible goal-scoring instincts to become one of the most dangerous and consistent snipers in the NHL. Of all players drafted 205th or lower, only three players — Dave Taylor (431), Henrik Zetterberg (330), and Pavol Demitra (304) — have scored more goals than Pavelski.
Tony Luftman of NHL Network sang Pavelski’s praises to Fear the Fin at the end of the summer:
Joe Pavelski, we all know the story: picked 205, Wisconsin ‘06 National Championship. There is something...ordinary about his build, right? He’s not the most athletic guy, but he’s a guy that competes. He represents what I think is most special about hockey players: you can will yourself to be a real competitive and valuable piece.
His skill — and I turn to the guys who I sit next to, who have played in the league, coached in the league, managed in the league, the way that they react to his ability to deflect pucks and tip pucks in front of the net — it’s a skill that has to be honed and it’s clear from the plays he makes. There are guys that score effortlessly. When we see Ovi set up in his office and he’s scoring on the power play, it’s prodigious, it’s beautiful to watch, it’s amazing. Joe Pavelski has to manufacture goals. So to think of those two guys and how productive they’ve been over the last four years, one guy can basically impose his will on the game. The other guy is not enormous, but somehow finds a way to make an enormous impact by having this exceptional skill of tipping pucks in front.
I’ve heard and read quotes from Sharks players saying, “We just have to get pucks close to the net and he’s gonna make a play on it.” What a weapon, and what a fearless competitor. To go to the front of the net the way he does, it’s the dirty area that everybody talks about.
Over the span of the last five seasons, he ranks third in the NHL in goals scored, with his 150 tallies trailing only the prodigiously gifted and Hall-of-Fame-bound duo of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. A combination of injuries and poor puck luck have kept him from hitting his usual heights this season, but there’s little doubt that Joe Pavelski remains one of the most influential and gifted players to have ever donned the Sharks uniform.
Let’s hope we see him continue to wear it for a few more years to come.