San Jose Sharks\' Joe Pavelski celebrates his game-winning goal, Dec. 2, 2006, in Detroit. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Duane Burleson
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks got off to a head start on their off-season moves, re-signing forwards Joe Pavelski and Jeremy Roenick and backup goaltender Brian Boucher on Wednesday, six days before the start of the free-agency period.
Roenick and Boucher, who each received a one-year contract, would have become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Pavelski, who would have been a restricted free agent, got a two-year deal from the Sharks.
General manager Doug Wilson believes Pavelski showed only a glimpse of what he can do in the NHL during a strong stretch run and post-season that capped a successful second year in the league. Pavelski had 19 goals and 21 assists in 82 regular-season games. He was at his best late in the season, recording 15 points in his final 18 games.
"He's a big-time player," Wilson said. "We think he's right on path. I'm not going to limit expectations on him. I think he can be a heck of a player in this league. ... He wants the puck on the stick when the game's on the line."
Pavelski continued that high level of play in the post-season, tying for the team lead with five goals and adding four assists before the Sharks got knocked out by Dallas in six games in the second round of the playoffs.
After struggling a bit as a rookie adjusting to the more physical NHL, Pavelski put a priority on getting stronger and that paid off last season. He sees even more room for growth this season.
"It was a good stepping stone," he said. "Last year I felt like I got better as the year went on and learned more. It's important this summer to continue to grow and improve on my skating ability and protecting the puck. A lot of that keeps coming from getting stronger. Strength is the big one for me. That will kind of lead into every aspect of the game."
Roenick, a 19-year veteran, had 14 goals and 19 assists for the Sharks after coming out of semiretirement for another shot at the Stanley Cup. The nine-time All-Star became the third American-born player to score 500 career goals in early November and finished second in the NHL with 10 game-winning goals.
He had a career-best four-point playoff performance in San Jose's first-round victory over Calgary in Game 7. Roenick agreed to return for a 20th NHL season last month and the deal was formally announced Wednesday.
"He wants to win," Wilson said. "It's that simple. He plays hard. He can still play at a high level skill wise. But he plays physically hard, too. He's accomplished just about everything in this game. He wants to win. Look at how he played in the playoffs. When the game is on the line, he'll do whatever he can to win."
Roenick has played in 1,321 NHL games with Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Jose. He has 509 career goals, ranking 36th in league history, and 694 assists. Among American-born players, he ranks second in goals, third in points and sixth in assists.
Boucher played only five games for the Sharks after being picked up in late February as the backup to Evgeni Nabokov. Boucher had three wins and a 1.76 goals against average in his limited playing time.
Wilson expects Boucher to make an even bigger contribution next season as the team tries to lighten the load on Nabokov, who played in a team-record 77 games during the regular season and all 13 games in the playoffs.
"I think they work well together," Wilson said. "I don't think you'll see Nabber playing the same number of games as he did last year. Having two guys like this enables that to take place. Our goal is to be healthy and rested come playoff time and when you have two guys like this, that should be able to happen."
Wilson said he is having ongoing talks with free agent defenceman Brian Campbell but wouldn't characterize how those are going. He also said the team is close to re-signing enforcer Jody Shelley before Monday.