It’s no secret that Sharks forward Joe Pavelski is one of hockey’s most under-appreciated players.
While ‘The Big Pavelski’ or ‘Little Joe’ as fans like to call him is adored in his home city of San Jose, the Sharks recent offseason transactions have returned Pavelski to a rightful spot playing in the top-six, and an opportunity like no other for Pavs to show the NHL, and it’s fans what kind of player he really is.
For a player who spent last year skating on the third line, Pavelski’s numbers were off the charts. He accumulated 20 goals, 46 assists and a plus-10 rating.
So what does moving up to the second or even the first line do to Pavelski’s worth? Well, I’ll start by making a bold prediction that many may think is too gracious: Pavelski will score 30 goals in the 2011-2012 season. If he skates on the first line with Marleau and Thornton, 30 goals might be an insult.
In a recent fan poll surveyed by Sharks color analyst Brodie Brazil, fans voiced their opinion by saying they would like Sharks star rookie of last season, Logan Couture, skating on the first line.
I am not one of these people.
The idea is to have a speed threat on each of the two top lines, in which case you would put Marleau on one line and the freshly acquired Havlat on the other.
If I were Todd McLellan I would explore the options of the following players on the top two lines:
Marleau – Pavelski – Thornton
Clowe – Havlat – Couture
The obvious benefit of these lines should be apparent. And as an ex-player I can tell you that breaking up the chemistry of Clowe and Couture is not a smart idea.
If you center Pavelski on the second line, it would mean putting Couture on the wing and force you to find someone else to play right wing for Thornton and Marleau. This is a position that the casual hockey fan might think Havlat can fill, but with Havlat being more of a natural playmaker than a goal-scorer, the burden would be almost entirely on Marleau to score goals.
With all this said, the best place for Joe Pavelski to showcase his talents to San Jose and the rest of the NHL would be on the first line.
Either way, Pavelski is going to have one of his best years on record, and the Sharks will be scoring plenty of goals in the 2011-2012 season.