Free Agent Joe Pavelski should not be an option for the Rangers

Pavelski (Getty Images)
Joe Pavelski (Photo by Scott Dinn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Let’s start off this article stating that the only way the Rangers will probably consider Joe Pavelski is if Artemi Panarin does not sign with them. This whole article will be under that assumption so please do not comment saying “but we’ll be singing Panarin it doesn’t matter!”

That being said, they still shouldn’t sign him. His age, his slow decline of points over the years and the surplus at center are just a few reasons the Rangers should stay far away from this UFA.  

The obvious reasons not to sign Joe Pavelski is his age. Now age hasn’t stopped the Rangers from signing anyone…when they were competing for the Cup. We saw plenty of over 30 players come through our doors these past few years such as Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, Dom Moore and so on. It’s not uncommon for these players with great careers still try to win a cup with contending teams but the Rangers aren’t one of them. Pavelski wants to win a cup, and there’s no reason he’ll want to wait for the kids on the Rangers to be ready. Don’t get me wrong, I see the Rangers competing for the cup in a few years but the almost 35-year-old Pavelski probably won’t be apart of that.

The second obvious reason to not sign him is his contract. We don’t know how much Pavelski will command but we can make some assumptions. His last contract with the Sharks yielded an AAV of 6 million over a 5-year span for a total of 30 million, yay for simple multiplication. His contract also had a modified no-trade-clause within it. Given these factors plus his age is slowly increasing and his points are slowly declining, we can see him probably ask for 5 million, term depending on the team, but the Rangers shouldn’t go past two years. Why two years you ask? Well in two years there’s another expansion draft set to commence.

Most players between now and then will want full no-movement-clauses to not have their life uprooted by the Unnamed Seattle expansion team, and you can bet that Pavelski will command to have that in his next contract. If this occurs, the Rangers will lose out on protecting one of their younger players that are not on entry-level contracts and might have to make a deal and give up assets to protect who they were forced to expose.

The issue here isn’t that the Rangers can’t afford Pavelski, it’s who would they be missing out if they do take a cap hit like that. As stated earlier, Panarin is the big UFA for this season but this article is all under the assumption that Panarin goes somewhere else. What we’re looking at is NEXT YEAR’S free agent class.

Two of the top free agents headlining a very impressive 2020 class is the former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall and his equally as impressive former teammate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, both of which will be under 30 and will command massive contracts. Now if we’re talking a very discounted rate to sign Pavelski, then that’s a different story, but 5 million starts to look bad when these two come knocking and the Rangers are ready to make a playoff push. It also doesn’t help the Rangers who will be looking to resign at least 5 of their 7 pending free agents next summer, who are all due for significant raises. The Blueshirts will most likely have to part with one of two extra players if they want to push for Hall or RNH.

There’s no doubt Pavelski will help a team in need right away. He’s a dominating center who is a master of deflecting pucks and scoring on the powerplay. So good on the powerplay that is, that he has scored 36% of his points on the powerplay during his 13-year career with the Sharks. What’s so bad about that? Well at first glance nothing because he’s scoring for a team trying to win a Cup but what if he’s on a team that isn’t ready to compete for a Cup? The Sharks last season were 2nd in goals-for with 3.52 per game. Pavelski was the 5th best point producer on the team with 64 points, which would be second best on the Rangers.

So, what’s the issue here? His teammates would be statistically worse than his current ones. There’s no reason to believe that with a new team, new teammates and a new city that has a media up his you know what every second won’t affect his play to the point where his production drops off.

This isn’t hearsay, we’ve seen players come to the Rangers and not perform, such as Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith, Rick Nash, Brad Richards and countless others. This isn’t an easy place to play. The fans jump on players who don’t automatically make an impact, the media is just as bad making sure the players know they are not playing well, and the city itself is intimidating.

Why bring in a 35-year-old who’s only been with one team and has realistically only played for a contender? If he wants to mentor and play father figure for all these children on the team then I’m all for it, but it’ll have to be on a discount because I for one am tired of high-priced veterans under performing.

Speaking of children, the Rangers future looks as bright as ever. We have Andersson, Chytil, Kakko, Fox, Shesterkin, Miller, Kravtsov, Lundkvist, Hajek, Rykov, and Howden and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Andersson, Chytil, Kakko, Howden, and Kravtsov will probably be on the opening night roster for the forwards, that is if Pavelski isn’t in the lineup as well. With Pavelski likely slotting into the second line, Andersson and Howden will be pushed down a line and possibly out of the lineup and to Hartford if the Rangers want them to play regular minutes.

Lias Andersson does not deserve riding the 4th line, and with the consistent amount of playing time in Hartford last season, we saw his scoring touch come back. The Rangers do not need a Brendan Lemieux situation with Andersson. These kids deserve consistent playing time, and with Pavelski in the lineup night in and night out, they’ll never get it.

Joe Pavelski is a top end talent and will help any team he plays for…for a short period of time. The Rangers are still rebuilding even with drafting Kaapo Kakko and hitting homeruns on all their previous 1st round picks these past few years.

Rebuilds take more than one year so buckle up for another season of losing. Adding Pavelski doesn’t hurt the team, but it also doesn’t help it in the long run. With all these points to digest, I hope this article really doesn’t matter when free agency hits. Signing Panarin will render this whole argument insignificant because there will be no need for any other high-end forwards.