Joe Pavelski signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Dallas Stars on Monday. It has an average annual value of $7 million.
The forward, who turns 35 on July 11, had 64 points (38 goals, 26 assists) in 75 regular-season games with the San Jose Sharks last season and nine points (four goals, five assists) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Selected by San Jose in the seventh round (No. 205) of the 2003 NHL Draft, Pavelski has 781 points (355 goals, 406 assists) in 963 games, all with the Sharks. He had 100 points (48 goals, 52 assists) in 134 playoff games and was named Sharks captain Oct. 5, 2015.
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He is second on the Sharks' in goals, behind Patrick Marleau (508), third in assists and points, and fourth in games.
Pavelski said he wasn't just looking to sign with the highest bidder.
"There were definitely some boxes that we wanted checked off," he said. "We wanted to feel that the team was close to winning. And playing against the Stars, playing against some of their players, and the season they had, they were a team that checked … a lot of the boxes.
"We came in and spent a couple of days there with some of the management, saw the city, the youth rinks, schools, neighborhoods, and just really tried to visualize ourselves being here and it seemed like a perfect fit for us."
Video: Pavelski discusses new beginning with Stars
The Stars had 93 points (43-32-7) and were the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. They advanced to the Western Conference Second Round, where the St. Louis Blues eliminated them in seven games.
"It is not every day a player the caliber of Joe becomes available, and we're thrilled to be able to add him to our club," Stars general manager Jim Nill said. "He is a leader in every sense of the word, and a proven goal-scorer that continues to produce at an elite level. In meeting with him it is evident how much he values winning, and that mindset will mesh perfectly with our leadership group."
Asked about his time ending in San Jose, Pavelski said, "I don't know what the feeling is.
"It's been a process where, we've been there so long, you always thought we were going to be going back. As [free agency] got closer and closer, more doubt started to happen. Then you go on these visits and you understand it's getting closer. There was always the question, like, 'Hey, are you guys really going to leave?' It seemed like it was getting more and more on our side. It was gradual. It's still going to feel different right away, but it's slowly gotten a little easier."
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he had good discussions with Pavelski and his agent, but they couldn't find common ground on dollars and term. With San Jose signing forward Timo Meier to a four-year contract as Pavelski signed with Dallas, Wilson said there were mixed emotions.
Video: Joe Pavelski signs three-year contract with Stars
"You have the heart and the head, and you understand these decisions have to be made and they get made," Wilson said. "You're excited for Timo and the opportunities for the rest of the team. But you love what Joe Pavelski brought to this organization for so many years. It's the reality of this business and this system. That part doesn't make it any easier, and you always want to treat people with the respect they deserve and that's what we try to do as an organization. But it's a combination of emotions."
Pavelski said he was seeking a three-year contract and had no hard feelings that it didn't come from the Sharks.
"Every team's built a little different, the [NHL salary cap] is what it is," he said. "It's really not that big of a deal. It didn't work out this time. You see these types of things, they don't always set up and line up perfectly. I never had a sense that they didn't want me or I didn't want them. It's just the way things played out."
Pavelski said he's talked or exchanged texts with several Sharks.
"It's hard leaving friends there, it's even more hard leaving teammates, especially with the guys I played there with the whole time," he said. "I came up in that organization. There are guys that that's the only organization they've seen. It's tough leaving that. You understand it's a change, but the friendships will be there.
"What an incredible time we had in San Jose. The organization treated us top-notch. There were never any doubts, any things we looked back on and wished we would have done different. It was a special time in life, for sure, and we'll miss a lot of people there."
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