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Where Are They Now: Pavelski On the Brink of a Milestone

By WBH, 12/18/19, 3:15PM CST

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Presented by Karen's Print Rite

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, Friday is not a good night.

Maybe you intended to go caroling…push that back to Saturday.

Dinner plans?  Make sure you’re dining somewhere that subscribes to the NHL satellite package.

This Friday, the Dallas Stars visit the Florida Panthers at 6 p.m. Central, and barring the unforeseen, it will be a special night for Waterloo’s most prolific NHL alumnus.

Joe Pavelski has taken the ice for 998 career regular season games.  Thursday, he and the Stars faceoff against the Tampa Bay Lightning for 999.  Friday versus the Panthers should be #1,000.

It’s a number which speaks to the forward’s durability.  During seven of his first 13 years in the league, Pavelski did not miss a regular season game.  

It is also a testament to the valuable contributions Pavelski has made to his teams.  

And 1,000 games is still a relatively rare accomplishment for an American player.  He will become just the 51st player born in the United States to reach the milestone, and only the third with USHL roots (joining United States Hockey Hall of Famers Phil Housley and Gary Suter).  It goes without saying that he is the first former Waterloo Black Hawk get there.

In preparation for the notable night, see how Pavelski compares with the most significant hockey players in American history.  Those noted with an * are members of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, while those with a ^ are still playing in the NHL.

Regular Season Games Played
Pavelski – 998 (American rank: 51st)
Next American to Catch – Ryan Kessler, 1,001
American All-Time Leader – Chris Chelios*, 1,651

Pavelski would have already reached 1,000 games if not for the 2012/13 NHL lockout.  That season, the league schedule was reduced from 82 to 48 games.  It was in the middle of a span of five straight seasons during which Pavelski took the ice for his team during every game on their schedule.  In addition to overtaking Kessler, Pavelski can expect to catch several other stars before the year is out, including Dave Christian* (1,009), Eddie Olczyk* (1,031), and possibly Derian Hatcher* (1,045).

Regular Season Goals
Pavelski – 362 (American rank: 13th)
Next American to Catch – Phil Kessel^ (364)
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 741

For the last decade or more, a group of star players from the United States has taken a prominent place in the pantheon of NHL stars.  Pavelski is there among them.  In addition to Kessel, both Patrick Kane^ (374) and Zach Parise^ (375) are all among the top 15 most successful American goal-scorers ever.  Last season, they all overtook former luminaries like Eddie Olczyk* (342), Brian Rolston (342), Scott Young* (342), and Dave Christian* (340).

Regular Season Points
Pavelski – 776 (American rank: 19th)
Next American to Catch – Eddie Olczyk*, 794
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 1,391

Aside from the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season, Pavelski had at least 60 points each year from 2010/11 through 2018/19.  Although he is behind that pace this season, Pavelski is just a year removed from scoring 38 goals.  He opened this year tied with Brian Rolston (761), and if he hits a hot streak, Pavelski might be able to reel in John LeClair* (819).

Regular Season Plus/Minus
Pavelski – +109 (American rank: 19th)
Next American to Catch – Doug Brown, +112
American All-Time Leader – Mark Howe*, +400

Pavelski’s offensive production does not bring a defensive liability.  Last season was the only time he has had a negative plus/minus for the year (-4).  When removing defensemen from the list, Pavelski ranks seventh all time among American forwards.

Regular Season Power Play Goals
Pavelski – 124 (American rank: 10th)
Next American to Catch – Phil Housley*, 129
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 265

Even before reaching the NHL, Pavelski had a reputation for putting himself in the right place to score.  That has been a hallmark of his contribution on the power play.  In addition to his power play goal total, he also has 159 assists while appearing on that special teams unit.

Regular Season Game-Winning Goals
Pavelski – 62 (American rank: 11th, tied with Patrick Kane^)
Next Americans to Catch – John LeClair* and Phil Kessel^, 65
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 110

Already during his first season with the Dallas Stars, Pavelski has demonstrated his clutch-play ability.  Of the seven goals he has scored this season, three have been decisive.  He started the 2019/20 season tied with Pat LaFontaine* at 59.

Postseason statistics are not included in the figures and rankings above.  Pavelski’s productivity in the playoffs, relative to his American peers, is – arguably – even more impressive.

Playoff Games Played
Pavelski – 134 (American rank: 18th)
Next Americans to Catch – Chris Drury* and Neal Broten*, 135
American All-Time Leader – Chris Chelios*, 266

Playoff Goals
Pavelski – 48 (American rank: 6th)
Next American to Catch – Patrick Kane^, 50
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 103

Playoff Assists
Pavelski – 52 (American rank: 14th)
Next American to Catch – Jamie Langenbrunner, 53
American All-Time Leader – Chris Chelios*, 113

Playoff Points
Pavelski – 100 (American rank: 10th, tied with Brian Rafalski*)
Next American to Catch – Scott Gomez, 101
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 190

Playoff Game-Winning Goals
Pavelski – 12 (American rank: 4th, tied with Jamie Langenbrunner and Jeremy Roenick*) 
Next American to Catch – Mike Modano*, 15
American All-Time Leader – Brett Hull*, 24

Where Are They Now is presented by Karen’s Print Rite.

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Stars.