Joe Pavelski retirement plans as the next Sharks star is born, while the Stanley Cup finals are set: Around the League

Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
11 days ago
Welcome back to Around the League — the column here at CanucksArmy where we deliver you news and notes from around the National Hockey League — oftentimes through a Vancouver Canucks-tinted lens! 
This week around the league was a busy one! Although we won’t have any hockey to watch until the Stanley Cup finals begin on Saturday, we’re going to have to rely on the news and rumours around the league to hold us over until then.

Stanley Cup Finals

The stage is set for the grand finale of the NHL season! The Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers will battle it out for the ultimate prize in sports, the Stanley Cup.
The Oilers and Panthers faced off against each other twice this season, Florida winning both outings and outscoring Edmonton 10-4. In the first game, the Oilers had a two-goal lead early in the first period and allowed five of the following six goals on their way to a 5-3 loss. Pickard got another start a month later, where he allowed another five goals, but this game was never close. Three first-period goals from the Panthers put this game out of reach early.
It’s interesting to note that Calvin Pickard saw action against Florida this season. While he allowed nine goals, he still made 62 of 71 saves. But now it’s all about the unfamiliar face for Florida, and that’s Stuart Skinner.
Skinner has been rolling since his struggles in the first three games against the Vancouver Canucks. Throughout those opening games, Skinner had a sub .800 save percentage (S%) and earned himself a seat on the bench for Games 4 and 5. Since he returned, he has a 6-2 record, a 1.85 goals against average (GAA) and a .914 S%.
The Florida Panthers are the betting favourite to win this series; they have the home-ice advantage and made the Finals just last season. Unfortunately, they played so hard that the whole team was injured and ran out of gas. You know they’re eager to redeem themselves and learned their lesson from last season.
Both Edmonton and Florida declined to touch their respective conference title trophies, as it’s not the trophy they’re after.
The Stanley Cup finals begin on Saturday, June 8th, and if the series goes seven games, there will be four three-day breaks. It seems like a bit of overkill to me, mainly because if the series does go the distance, the NHL entry draft is just 48 hours later.

Joe Pavelski To Hang Them Up?

In the Dallas Stars’ year-end media availability, Taylor Baird quoted Joe Pavelski as saying, “This is it for me. The plan is not to play next season.”
The 39-year-old has had an incredible career. Pavelski had all the odds stacked against him as a 7th-round pick in the 2003 NHL draft, those lottery tickets typically never pay off.
Pavelski spent the first 13 years of his career with the San Jose Sharks, where he scored 355 goals and 761 points in 963 games. He reached the Western Conference finals four times and the Stanley Cup finals once. He earned Captain’s honours for the 2015-2016 season and kept them until he left in 2019.
After he left the Sharks and joined the Dallas Stars at the ripe age of 35, Pavelski didn’t skip a beat. He would go on to score 107 goals and 276 points in 302 games with the Stars, including the best season of his career with 81 points in 82 games.
When it’s all said and done, Pavelski had 1068 points in his 18 NHL seasons and will go down in NHL history as one of the league’s most successful tip-masters.

Will Smith signs ELC with the San Jose Sharks

This is the summer of the San Jose Sharks. First, they win the draft lottery and get the honour to draft Macklin Celebrini, and now your fourth overall pick from the 2023 NHL draft signs on the dotted line from next season.
Will Smith is coming off a successful freshmen season with Boston College (BC), where he led the entire NCAA in points with 71 in 41 games. Smith made it to the Frozen Four final but lost 2-0 to Denver.
In Smith’s draft year, he centred one of the most iconic lines in USNTDP history between Gabe Perreault and Ryan Leonard. Perreault and Smith broke the program scoring record, with Perreault finishing first with 132 points and Smith with 127. Leonard was a little farther behind with 94, but in the short 41-game season, all three feats are awe-inspiring.
The trio was all selected in the first round of the 2023 draft class and continued their success together at the collegiate level this past season.
But now, with Smith signing with his NHL team and leaving BC, it begs the question: Will his long-time linemates follow suit? They also have enticing situations to go to.
The Washington Capitals selected Leonard, who has the opportunity to play with an undoubted hall-of-famer, Alexander Ovechkin, at the tail end of his career. The New York Rangers selected Perreault, who has the chance to play in a team that just won the President’s Trophy and has gone to the Eastern Conference finals in two of the last three seasons.
Might the two linemates follow in the centremen’s footsteps? Only time will tell.
We’ll be back next week with more up-to-date news from this upcoming week around the league.

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