The Dallas Stars are going to have to make some tough decisions with some of their all-star players as the trade deadline approaches nearer. Names like John Klingberg and Braden Holtby have been tossed around the league, but one player the team has already nailed down is Joe Pavelski, signing the forward for an extra year with the squad.
The veteran player first joined the Stars in the 2019-20 season and has formed into a true team leader this season. After his performance so far in 2021-22, it seems likely that Dallas is the right place for the centre. He may be the key to the Star’s current — and future — success.
Pavelski’s First Seasons With Stars
While the forward has shown why he deserves to have a leadership position now, he came onto the Stars’ roster with veteran experience with the San Jose Sharks and knew coming into a new team with a goal in mind. He nearly accomplished that goal when the Stars nearly missed the Stanley Cup during the NHL bubble season.
He immediately assumed a strong role on the roster during 2019-20, which ultimately propelled the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final. It wasn’t the same situation during the 2020-21 season, but Pavelski still led the team with 51 points in 56 games, which was better than any of his previous NHL seasons over his lengthy career. And this season, he’s ready to go all the way again.
“We’re in a spot right now where we [have] to go play good hockey moving forward,” he said. “And we have been, so there’s a lot of confidence in me here with this group and to keep making strides forward.”
Staying One More Year in Dallas
On Friday, the Stars announced they would be signing the forward for a one-year contract extension, at $5.5 million, with potential bonuses of another $500,000. After how much he contributed to the team this season, Pavelski deserves a shiny deal like this — one that the fans can also appreciate.
And they have appreciated him, especially since he now plays on a dynamic line alongside Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz, affectionately known as the “RoboRooSki” line. They’ve been the top scoring line for the team since the beginning of the season, and Pavelski himself leads the Stars in scoring with 59 points (22 goals, 37 assists) in 56 games.
He likes it in Dallas, and so does his family. He has found remarkable chemistry with his linemates. Everything seems to be falling into place for the player.
“We feel like we’ve really found a home, and the game of hockey is a lot of fun for me right now. And it has been throughout my career and [I’ve] found a group that I really enjoy being around,” he said. “Playing a lot of opportunities and playing with a good line and all those things come into play and you want to be out there, you want that opportunity, and you want to play with a group that you respect.”
All these things have factored into the forward’s decision to want to stay with the Stars. For Stars general manager Jim Nill, it was no question to keep the leading scorer around for at least another year.
“I believe he’s embraced the team, the team’s embraced him, what he’s brought in his leadership role to our dressing room and our organization has been everything you could ever expect out of a hockey player,” he said. “And he loves the city, loves the fans here.”
He says that Pavelski is a lead player on the team for a reason — his commitment to the game, to the team, to the city continued to show as the season went on.
“He’s got a great hockey sense…He finds a way to get from point A to point B where the puck is and puts it in the net.”– Stars general manager Jim Nill
The forward wants to continue to impress those around him. He may have another year on Texan ice, but he doesn’t want handouts. The forward says he’s going to continue to make plays, be responsible defensively and most importantly, have fun.
Forward Key to Stars’ Success
With his current playmaking abilities and natural leadership sense, Pavelski’s lengthened time in Dallas may be the thing the team needs to stay consistent, even after the Stanley Cup Playoffs have come and gone. And Pavelski wants it. He’s hitting multiple career highs. He may be turning 38 this summer, but not even his own body is slowing him down.
With his multiple years of hockey experience and dedication to a group he believes in, the centre is ready to help his team stay consistent and risk it all for a chance to kiss the Stanley Cup. And he won’t give up, even if they have to keep trying. The forward won’t stop trying to prove himself to maintain his skating, even though he’s been in the league for a long time.
His voice is respected in the dressing room, and he’s played at an All-Star level. By signing this contract with Dallas, he’s set the standard in the organization. His performance has been so consistent that he may be the key to the Stars’ run for the Cup. After all, he’s qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 14 of his 16 seasons in the NHL, and it’s no fluke. Perhaps the Stars can consider keeping him past this one-year extension if he continues to fill that leadership slot for them.
He wants to keep getting better — even though he’s arguably the best he’s ever been.
“We’ll look to finish out the season strong and make a run and put ourselves in a good position,” Pavelski said. “ Then the summer’s not going to change much from the previous summers. You put the work in, put the effort in, be prepared, get your recovery, do all those types of things. So when you come back here, you’re hungry again, and you’re ready to make a push.”
Raylene Lung is a journalist based in Ottawa and has a Masters of Journalism from Carleton University. She has previously written for The Victory Press, The Hockey News, Canadian Geographic and most recently worked at CBC Edmonton. She still reads magazines religiously and loves women’s hockey. When she isn’t writing, she is riding her horse. She currently covers the Dallas Stars for The Hockey Writers.