Joe Pavelski saw time on the San Jose Sharks' third line earlier this season and was drafted on average with the 87th pick in Yahoo Fantasy leagues. He's currently the NHL's second-leading goal-scorer (28).
That paints a perfect picture in regards to Pavelski's adaptability and overall value, both in fantasy and reality.
Pavelski, who has center and right wing eligibility in Yahoo Fantasy leagues, continued his torrid surge with his 19th goal in 21 games on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. That goal marked his third game-winning tally in as many contests and stretched his point streak to four games (seven goals, one assist).
Sharks forward Joe Pavelski is the NHL's hottest goal scorer and has shown an ability to play anywhere in the lineup. (Photo: Getty Images)
When Pavelski played behind Joe Thornton and Logan Couture on the team's depth chart earlier this season, he made up by excelling on the first power-play unit while maximizing his even-strength and shorthanded ice time. Now, with Couture and Tomas Hertl sidelined, Pavelski has taken on added responsibility to patrol the front of the net and keep the Sharks' offense afloat on a more prominent line with Thornton and Brent Burns.
If the Sharks began to experience a dip in offense during the absence of two of their top-six forwards, it would have been somewhat understandable. Instead, they have put together a five-game winning streak, fueled largely in part by Pavelski.
The 29-year-old has furthered the notion that he's one of the League's most versatile, indispensable players with his ability to adapt on the fly and thrive in any situation. Entering action Friday, he stands third among NHL forwards in shifts per game (27.5) and is one of three skaters League-wide with a double-digit power-play goal total (10), joining Alex Ovechkin (13) and Chris Kunitz (11).
Pavelski's balance of point production also tells the story, as he's one of only eight players with 20-plus power-play points and 20-plus even-strength points. That's an indication Pavelski will continue to produce even when Couture, a fellow top-35 overall player when healthy, returns.
After locking up Pavelski and Couture this past July, the Sharks agreed to terms with Thornton and Patrick Marleau, two more top-30 fantasy forward assets, on three-year extensions Friday. With these recent moves to preserve their core, all indications point to more regular-season prowess in years to come.
So while Pavelski remains buried in a deep, high-scoring lineup, there should be no concern about a drop in production, meaning he remains a top-tier asset in all league formats (points-only, multi-category, keeper, non-keeper, etc.)
Pavelski has been a point-per-game player (51 in 51) this season and will be competing for the United States in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in February. His value has never been higher as he hasn't gone more than three games without a point all season and is in position to shatter his career high in points (66 from 2010-11).