The NHL Entry Draft of 2003 has been very kind to the San Jose Sharks, thanks to the keen eye of San Jose’s Director of Scouting Tim Burke. Many scouts can “find” players when drafting in the top five every year, but the challenge is located the needle in the haystack down the road.
Milan Michalek was the sixth overall pick by San Jose in 2003 and the odds were that San Jose would find an NHL player, but the odds of that player being a home run pick aren’t what many would think. Sixth overall picks from 1996-2002 include Boyd Devereaux, Daniel Tkaczuk, Rico Fata, Brian Finley, Scott Hartnell, Mikko Koivu and Scottie Upshall. Not one All-Star in the batch and only Hartnell has surpassed Michalek’s 17 goals from his rookie campaign. While goals are not expected from netminder Brian Finley, he has only played in one NHL contest prior to this season.
However, when the 16th overall pick was acquired on draft day, the odds dramatically lessened. But Burke still struck success, taking Steve Bernier, an unpopular pick among hockey "experts." Sixteenth overall picks from 1996-2002 include Mario Larocque, Ty Jones, Eric Chouinard, David Tanabe, Marcel Hossa, R.J. Umberger and Jakup Klepis.
At 47th overall in the middle portion of the second round in 2003, blueliner Matt Carle was snagged. The NHL Guide and Record Book doesn’t even consider there to be a notable selection at that spot from 1996-2002, showing just how difficult drafting can be.
So how then does a player like Joe Pavelski
slip to 205th overall in the seventh round back in 2003? Now there are only seven rounds in the Entry Draft. At 5-11, Pavelski is not the biggest player to grace the ice, and it was prior to the rules changes that eliminated much of the league’s clutching and grabbing, but still, Pavelski has demonstrated skill at every stop.
“People will point out that he is not big or fast, but he makes people around him better and he is consistent,” said Burke. “He processes information quickly and he is a curious kid. That is good for an athlete.”
Pavelski wasn’t even thinking about getting drafted out of high school.
to read the transcript from Pavelski's live chat with SJSHARKS.com on Wednesday.
“As a Wisconsin high school player, I didn’t think I’d get drafted,” said Pavelski. “I started having a good year my first season in juniors and I then started thinking about it.”
And the NHL altered their rules to allow more skill back into the game, speeding up his progress to professional hockey and the NHL.
“I saw last year they really opened it up and let smaller, skilled guys play,” said Pavelski. “I think that is how it should be.”
So what made the Sharks take a stab at the Plover, Wisconsin native?
“Pat Funk (Sharks scout based in Minnesota) pushed the guy hard all year,” said Burke. “In Waterloo he was one of the top scorers in the league. In retrospect, we probably should have taken him earlier and were lucky to get him.”
Burke points out there was a lot to like about “Little Joe”.
“He’s won at every level,” said Burke referring to Pavelski winning a Wisconsin state high school title, a midget AAA championship with his club team, a USHL championship and a NCAA title at Wisconsin.
Pavelski knows he is on a good Sharks squad and wouldn’t mind his current team putting another marker in his list of championships this season. At the same time, he is just happy to be of the Sharks roster.
“If I was drafted higher, who knows where I would have gone or who’d I’d be playing with,” said Pavelski, likely referring to the fact he’s skated alongside Patrick Marleau
and Joe Thornton
during his 10-game NHL career. “Fortunately the Sharks give players a chance.”
And Pavelski has taken advantage of the chance, scoring seven goals in 10 games. In fact, since his call up, only Alexander Radulov of Nashville has registered more goals and the Predators rookie has played in one more contest. In addition, among NHL players with 10 games played, Pavelski’s goals-per-game ranks fourth in the league.
Not too bad for a 22-year-old who was preparing for final exams at this point last year.
The Sharks will return their three-game winning streak to HP Pavilion Thursday night for a return match with Los Angeles. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Box Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.