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Roenick back in fold with Sharks

by Dan Rosen

The San Jose Sharks re-signed Jeremy Roenick, Joe Pavelski and Brian Boucher Wednesday for another Stanley Cup run. Roenick video
The seeds for Jeremy Roenick’s second contract with the San Jose Sharks were actually planted before he signed his first one last September.

“Jeremy and I talked about it a year ago,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. “We said, ‘Let’s see how this works out.’ ”

When Wilson urged Roenick to pull out of his two-month retirement to come to San Jose, he told the 38-year-old center that he would have to follow certain guidelines or there wouldn’t be another contract waiting for him.

Roenick not only followed them, he rewrote them as he went along, becoming one of the Sharks’ key contributors last season to the point where Wilson had no choice but to extend a second contract offer to Roenick.

The Sharks announced Roenick’s new contract Wednesday, along with the signings of 23-year-old center Joe Pavelski, who would have been a restricted free agent, and veteran backup goalie Brian Boucher. Pavelski’s deal is believed to be for two years while Boucher and Roenick signed one-year deals.

Wilson also said talks were ongoing with potential unrestricted free-agent defenseman Brian Campbell as well as with potential restricted free agents Ryane Clowe, Christian Ehrhoff and Marcel Goc.

“I can’t give him enough credit for what he did last year,” Wilson said of Roenick. “It’s one thing for a guy to say I want to play and I’ll put the work in, but he went in and did it. He was excited about playing the game. Shortly after the year was over we sat him down and said it was going to be the same guidelines. Not only for what he did on the ice, but he took some of the younger guys under his wings and had a huge impact on them. He plays hard and wants to win.”

Despite spending last summer in retirement, Roenick still managed to put up 33 points on 14 goals -- including 10 game-winners -- and 19 assists last season. In early November, he became the third American-born player to score 500 goals.

Wilson, though, said Roenick should come into this year’s training camp way ahead of where he was last year in terms of fitness level and physical shape only because he will spend the summer training instead of in retirement.

“He’s at a much better fitness level now than he was last August,” Wilson said. “I expect him to not only maintain that level, but with our new coach (Todd McLellan) he is excited. It was a family decision. I told him his wife and two daughters had to be here because he plays better when they are. It was a family decision.”

Pavelski, also an American-born center, said Roenick’s presence in the dressing room is a coup for the Sharks’ forwards.

“I took a lot from him last year,” Pavelski said. “He was really good with me. He was really good with a lot of the young guys. He showed us the way and how it was back in his day, and how it has to be in today’s game. Guys felt comfortable around him. He challenged us, but he was honest with us, too.

“It’s exciting that he still wants to be around. He wanted to be around last year and he brought energy.”

While Roenick’s signing is important, getting Pavelski on board bodes well not only for the Sharks’ present, but their future as well.

Pavelski, who is entering his third season, is on his way to becoming a complete player. Wilson believes a two-year deal for Pavelski is perfect now because it forces him to still play for the bigger contract that could be coming in the summer of 2010.

Pavelski had 19 goals and 21 assists in playing all 82 games last season. He had 15 points in the last 18 games and then tied for the team lead with five goals in the playoffs before the Sharks were wiped out by Dallas in the second round.

“He’s a big time player and he’s right on path, but I’m not going to limit expectations for him,” Wilson said. “He wants the puck on his stick and he wants to be on the ice when the game is on the line. His respect in that dressing room grew when the game was on the line. For him to step up and get this deal done for us tells you right about Joe. I’m glad he stepped up now.

“He knows he has another level to his game and so do we,” Wilson later added. “We think it’s a fair deal for both parties, and we got it done pretty quickly.”

Pavelski, who is getting married on July 12, expects to break out this coming season because he spent the first two years of his career learning how to maintain himself throughout the grind that is the NHL season.

“My first year pro and I got off to a good start before hitting a wall, and I didn’t finish the way you’d like to finish,” Pavelski said. “Going into last summer I wanted to get stronger and be able to last longer. I started a little slow (this past year), right around 8-10 minutes of ice for a while, and the last 20-25 games I started playing a bigger role and got on a roll. I’m satisfied with how it came around at the end of the year, and it’s a good stepping stone coming into the next year.”

Bringing back Boucher was a no-brainer for Wilson.

Prior to signing him in February, the Sharks did not have an NHL ready backup to Evgeni Nabokov, who still wound up playing in a League-high 77 games last season. Boucher was strong in his five games – he was 3-1-1 with a .932 save percentage, 1.76 GAA and one shutout – and Wilson expects him to play more this coming season.

Plus, having Boucher allows the Sharks to develop goalie prospects Thomas Greiss and Taylor Dakers in the minors, where they will get playing time.

“We’ve got some outstanding young goalies in the pipeline and they need to play,” Wilson said. “We worked hard last year to get the right guy (Boucher) and we’re happy that he wanted to come back and be part of it. We think with him in net we have the best goalie tandem in the League.”

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