Pavelski is a perfect fit for the Sabres

June 24, 2019 - 10:20 am

It may be a stretch to try and convince a guy like Joe Pavelski to go from San Jose, California to Buffalo, New York, but Pavelski would be the perfect fit for the Sabres.

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic wrote on Monday that he believes that the Sabres are among the teams that have contacted Pavelski's camp. Lebrun went on to note that "the Sabres don't have a site visit scheduled with Pavelski."

LeBrun also mentioned that teams like the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning could be a fit for Pavelski's services.

The Sabres should undoubtedly be reaching out to Pavelski and his representatives to chat about the chances of coming to Buffalo.

Despite the fact that Pavelski will be 35-years-old on July 11, he has still been a very productive player in the National Hockey League.

Just last season in San Jose, Pavelski scored 38 goals while tacking on 26 assists for 64 points in 75 games. In 13 playoff games, Pavelski scored four goals and registered nine points, despite missing some time with a concussion.

In his 13-year career with the Sharks, Pavelski has scored 355 goals and 406 assists for 761 points in 963 games played.

Over the length of his career, Pavelski has scored 40-plus goals in a season once (2013-14), and has surpassed the 30-goal mark four times. Pavelski has proven over that time that he can be a perennial playmaker down the middle, a reliable player in both ends of the ice, as well as a leader on and off the ice.

He has also served as captain of the San Jose Sharks for the last four seasons.

The Sharks are currently in a bit of a bind when it comes to their future outlook of the team.

With the NHL salary cap now set at $81.5 million, the Sharks have over $14.8 million to work with in salary cap space. With a number of key players due for contract extensions in San Jose, including forwards Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Joonas Donskoi, Gustav Nyquist and Joe Thornton, a contract for Pavelski may not be able to fit in the plans for the Sharks.

Back on July 30, 2013, Pavelski signed a five-year contract extension with the Sharks that paid him an average annual salary of $6 million, which also included a modified no trade clause.

With his continued success and the rate of production still being pretty high, it is believed that Pavelski is going to get a raise for his next deal.

But what kind of a deal will Pavelski get this offseason?

It is unlikely that any team would be willing to give Pavelski a deal that is for more than three years in term. However, the cost of his next deal is the biggest question. How much is Pavelski worth to have on your team?

The Sabres do have some flexibility with their salary cap with more than $18.9 million in projected space available heading into free agency. There is a number of free agents that the Sabres will likely re-sign before the start of the 2019-2020 season, but the biggest name that had to get re-signed was Jeff Skinner, and both sides came to terms on a long-term contract.

Buffalo also has a hole in the lineup for a second line center behind Jack Eichel. Last season, it was supposed to be Patrik Berglund to fill that role while Casey Mittelstadt would be able to develop on the third line. However, after Berglund left the Sabres during the season, Mittelstadt was forced to take that role and never really got fully comfortable as the season went on. This was a big reason why general manager Jason Botterill wanted to get a solid second line center before the upcoming season.

That's where Pavelski would come in.

If Buffalo was to get a deal signed with Pavelski and he agreed to join the Sabres, he would instantly become that No. 2 option behind Eichel. Pavelski's presence could allow Mittelstadt the opportunity to grow into his role with the Sabres, as well as be a solid post for Eichel to lean on in his second year as captain.

Speaking of leadership, Pavelski would bring plenty of it.

For a team that is still relatively young and in need of a voice in the locker room, Pavelski could be the type of guy that brings a team together on and off the ice. Not only could he help groom Eichel as a captain, but he could also be an influence on the other young kids on the roster.

As for what to expect from Pavelski, he could bring some much needed production on the second line, which the Sabres did not get enough of last season.

Botterill has mentioned time and time again that the team relied too much upon Eichel, Skinner and Sam Reinhart to score and be the driving force on offense.

If you can get at least 25-30 goals and 50-60 points from Pavelski on the second line in Buffalo, that is a drastic improvement. He would also be an important piece to the power play, primarily playing down low and to the left of the opposing netminder.

Now the question comes back to what would the Sabres be willing to offer Pavelski to come to Buffalo.

Are the Sabres willing to offer Pavelski a three-year deal that could be worth anywhere between $6.5 million and $7.5 million? Or how about a two-year contract that may pay a bit more to make the deal a bit more enticing? That's something that Botterill will have to figure out if talks get anywhere between both parties.

Again, it may be a stretch to try and convince Pavelski to join a Sabres team that has struggled for several years and have not made the playoffs in eight seasons. Regardless of that fact, the Sabres should be exploring these type of options to try to plug one of their biggest holes in the lineup.

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