Sharks Gameday: The Next Generation

Nashville Predators at San Jose Sharks, 7:30 PM EST

The Olympics just confirmed to the world what you and I knew for a while: Joe Pavelski is pretty freakin' awesome. He's not awesome in a Joe Thornton "bazillion assists" kind of way, or a Patrick Marleau "faster than Rudy running away from an angry mob led by Rob Blake, Ryan Smyth, and Jeremy Roenick" kind of way; no, Pavelski's more awesome in that smart, reliable, gritty, and clutch way. He's the type of dude that you know will always be there, will always give his best effort, and is pretty damn talented to boot.

If I knew the A-Team better, I'd make some sort of appropriate character comparison (Sleek can chime in on this in the comments). Instead, I'll pull from Star Trek: The Next Generation -- if Rob Blake is Captain Picard (which he really isn't, but Blake is old and the captain, so it's a forced fit), then Thornton is Will Riker (kinda goofy, kinda cool, and somewhat afraid of being the leader), Marleau is Data (awkward robotic gestures but very good at what he does), and Evgeni Nabokov is Worf (the angry foreigner).

(I can't think of other Star Trek: TNG comparables for Dan Boyle or Dany Heatley. Can you?)

That makes Pavelski the equivalent to Geordi Laforge minus the whole being blind thing. He's quiet, good at what he does, and makes the whole damn thing work when the other officers are off dicking around.

All of this nerdy comparison is a big, pointless intro to my real point of this post: what the hell are the Sharks going to pay Pavelski when he hits RFA status this summer?

Let's look at some comparables:

Calgary center Matt Stajan is 25, a 50-60 point two-way forward, and just got signed to a $3.5 million cap-hit extension. Now, I'm pretty damn sure that Pavelski is better than Stajan, but I'm also pretty damn sure that Darryl Sutter has gradually lost his marbles over the past few years, so Stajan is overpaid in my book.

Our old friend Marco Sturm, who is awesome because he told my wife that he really likes schnitzel, is also a two-way forward capable of 50-60 points. Like Stajan, he's making $3.5 million a season. Hmmm...

Our other old friend Milan Michalek got a beefy $4.3 million contract from Doug Wilson for his 60-70 point, two-way play. I always liked Milan but he lacked that certain intangible awesomeness that Pavelski has (some call it"consistent effort"); I think he's overpaid.

Nashville center David "I could have been a Shark" Legwand (seriously, look at how/when he was drafted) is getting a huge, huge, huge $4.5 million contract. He's another two-way center, and depending on whether he's on or off, Legwand's point potential is 50-70 points.

Yeech. Well, I'd normally peg Pavelski at a $3 - $3.5 million extension but it looks like other players who, in my somewhat biased opinion aren't as good as Pavelski, have distorted the pay scale. Things get worse when you look at Ryane Clowe's absolutely absurd $3.6 million contract.

Maybe I'm just delusional about NHL pay scales, or maybe I'm just hoping Pavelski takes less so the team can figure out some way to hold on to Patrick Marleau. Going by these numbers, I think Pavelski will pull in a three-year, $13 million deal. Maybe he gets a little less if more years are added on.

The solution to this whole thing, then, is to find someone to take Ryane Clowe. After all, he's the Tasha Yar of the San Jose Sharks: somewhat attractive but ultimately expendable.

Oh yeah, there's a game tonight against the Nashville Predators. I'll be there rockin' the teal Roenick jersey, as it's the non-cursed attire in my household.

The Predator I'd Like On My Team: Steve Sullivan is one of my dad's favorite players and I always loved his hustle. Plus, I'd get a kick out of my dad's reaction if Sullivan was on the Sharks.

Prediction: Sharks 4, Preds 2. Goals by Data (2), Laforge, and Riker.

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