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Couture hoping free agent Pavelski will return to Sharks

Calls captain 'a tremendous hockey player and a tremendous leader'

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Logan Couture was asked if he has reconciled that Joe Pavelski may not be back with the San Jose Sharks next season. It was a possibility he did not want to entertain, having been teammates with Pavelski for the past 10 seasons.

"I don't know what's going to happen there. All I know is [Pavelski] is a tremendous hockey player and a tremendous leader," Couture said at the NHLPA Golf Classic on Thursday. "Who knows what will happen, but we hope he is back and I'm sure (general manager) Doug Wilson is going to do whatever he can to bring him back, but we'll see."

Video: Freidman gives updates on Panarin, Pavelski

Pavelski, who has been Sharks captain the past four seasons, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. According to TSN, he has met with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning and could be meeting with a third team. Pavelski, who will turn 35 on July 11, has been with the Sharks since entering the NHL in 2006 and has 761 points (355 goals, 406 assists) in 963 games. He led the Sharks with 38 goals this season. 

Couture, who had 70 points (27 goals, 43 assists) in 81 games this season, is hoping the comfort of playing in San Jose is a factor in Pavelski's ultimate decision. Couture said he has found players enjoy the culture and atmosphere the Sharks have developed over the years and that it has helped the team attract and retain key personnel. 

"It's big, there's not many players that come to play in San Jose who end up wanting to leave," said Couture, who signed an eight-year contract extension with San Jose on July 1. "That speaks a lot and speaks volumes about the culture that is there. You play in San Jose and you fall in love with it."

Defenseman Erik Karlsson, who was acquired in a trade from the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 13, agreed to an eight-year contract on June 17. Karlsson had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 53 regular-season games and 16 points (two goal, 14 assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games, but was hampered by a variety of injuries throughout the season. Couture said after an initial period of adjustment early in the season, Karlsson, when healthy, was among the best players in the League.

"Erik is really going to help us moving forward," Couture said. "It's not easy to go through what he went through being traded for the first time in his career, go basically from coast to coast having to move your family out there and meet a bunch of new guys. He went from the captain of a team, and it probably took him a little bit to get used to all of that and fit into our room, and by December, I think he felt comfortable and he definitely showed it. He was one of the best players in the League for a stretch when he was healthy there. We're looking forward to having him in our lineup healthy next year."

Couture also expressed interest in seeing forward Patrick Marleau return to San Jose. Marleau played his first 19 NHL seasons with the Sharks before signing as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 2, 2017. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and was bought out on Thursday, making him an unrestricted free agent.  

"We texted each other but that was about it. I loved my time playing with Patty, getting the opportunity to sit beside him in the room for many years and learned so much from him, just how to be a professional," Couture said. "I definitely wouldn't be the player I am today having learned a lot from him."

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