The 2011-2012 campaign was one of the better in San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski‘s career. In just his fifth full season in the NHL, Pavelski posted a career-high in goals with 31, and his second consecutive 60+ point season. The 28-year old has been a staple of the Sharks potent offense, but his road to superstardom certainly was not easy.
Pavelski was drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 NHL Draft from the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. The 205th overall selection had a very modest career with Waterloo, scoring 57 goals in 112 games, but simply did not match the offensive game of players like Thomas Vanek, Jeff Carter, and David Backes drafted in earlier rounds. He would sign an entry-level contract with the Sharks, but spent two years at the University of Wisconsin where he racked up the accolades. In 86 games, Pavelski would be named to the All-WCHA Second Team, Men’s RBK/AHCA All-America West Second Team, and helped Wisconsin win an NCAA title in 2006 while leading the team in scoring.
He would make the jump to the pro game in the 2006 season, starting the year with the Worchester Sharks of the AHL. In just 16 games with the club, Pavelski was able to make some jaws drop. The Wisconsin native would total a whopping 26 points, and the gritty two-way forward was rewarded with a call-up. He would never see the minors again.
Pavelski showed incredible skill at both ends of the ice, as not only was he an efficient part of the Sharks offense, but their back-check as well. In 2008, the club would give Pavelski an extension of $3.3 million over two years, a pretty strong testament to a player who had not even spent full years in the league. But he would play above and beyond his contract, notching 50 goals and 110 points over two seasons. But it wasn’t just Sharks fans and management who were impressed by the budding star, but Team USA as well. He would join the national team in 2010 in the Olympic Games in Vancouver, and his contributions would help his home country take home a silver medal.
The International experience certainly helped Pavelski’s confidence, and he finished the 2010-11 season with a career high 66 points and 10 points in 17 playoff games. He followed up his career year with another solid season in 2011, and seems prepared to become the face of the only franchise he’s ever known.
With the Sharks in turmoil, they could certainly use a leader. Pavelski is more than ready to step up.
Jake Pavorsky is a contributor for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JakePavorsky.