Sharks

Sharks

He's the player best at tipping Brent Burns' laser shots into the back of the net. The driving force behind one of the biggest come-from-behind victories we've seen in Stanley Cup playoff history. The teal-clad skater with the "C" on his sweater.

He seems like the one player who already should be signed to a contract.

But with just a couple days left until the NHL’s free-agent market opens, Joe Pavelski hasn't reached a deal with the San Jose Sharks, and is taking meetings with other teams at an expeditious pace.

Here's a look at why Pavelski still could be wearing teal next season, and why there's a chance he'll play somewhere other than San Jose in October.

Why he could stay

Pavelski made it clear at the end of the Sharks' playoff run in May that he wants to stay in San Jose. His teammates don't want him to go anywhere, either. And why would a team want a skater with 60-plus points in six consecutive seasons to play for the opposition?

At the end of the day, though, money and terms have kept both sides of this situation from reaching a deal.

Now, that doesn't mean Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will fail to perform some wizardry to free up some salary-cap space and keep Pavelski. It would require moving more veteran pieces from the roster -- like trading Justin Braun to Philadelphia -- and probably signing all of San Jose's top RFAs to team-friendly bridge contracts. This also probably would mean taking care of a Pavelski contract before signing Joe Thornton, whom the team has made clear it wants back next season.

 

Pavelski might have to sign a shorter deal to stay in San Jose, too.

A lot of things would have to happen to create room for Pavelski to stay. But it isn't unthinkable.

Why he could go

If Pavelski and the Sharks haven't reached a deal at this point, it's more likely he's headed somewhere else.

Reports have circulated all week that Pavelski has been visiting and taking calls with several teams, and the fact he's one of the biggest pending UFAs out there really shouldn't be surprising.

The 34-year-old forward is as dynamic as ever, whether it's skating 5-on-5 or posting up in front of the net on the power play. Plus, he's a leader in the locker room. He's a player who can help make any team better.

With so much interest from teams that can give Pavelski the kind of contract he wants and deserves, the chances of him playing elsewhere next season have increased.

The verdict

Fans aren't going to like it, but it's looking less likely that Pavelski and the Sharks will reach an agreement.

Sure, it might be hard to fathom, given the impact Pavelski has had on the team over the years. And it's even harder to think which Shark would make up the offensive production the team would lack without the captain. Everyone saw how San Jose struggled at the tail end of the regular season when Pavelski was sidelined with a lower-body injury.

[RELATED: Why DeBoer is optimistic Pavelski will re-sign with Sharks]

At the end of the day, though, it's a business decision.

San Jose still could juggle a bunch of things in order to keep Captain America on the roster. But right now, it seems like the next time Pavelski is at SAP Center, it will be in the visitors' dressing room.