AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks signed center Joe Pavelski to a $30 million, five-year contract extension Tuesday that will keep him off the free-agent market next summer.
"It's always exciting when a franchise puts that responsibility on you a little bit," Pavelski said. "It's important to continue to play at a high level in that regard. It's a position I wanted to be in, and it's exciting to have this opportunity."
Pavelski is the second key player signed to an extension this offseason by general manager Doug Wilson. Center Logan Couture also signed a $30 million, five-year extension earlier this month, a year before he could become a free agent. The deals keep both players under contract through the 2018-19 season.
Pavelski, a seventh-round pick in 2003, has become a cornerstone of the franchise that has long been led by Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
"He is one of our core players, the way he plays," general manager Doug Wilson. "To me it was just an important contract to get done on the heels of Logan's contract also. He fits for now and the future the way he plays the game."
He was tied for third on the team in points last season when he had 16 goals and 15 assists in 48 games. He is also a key part of both the power-play and penalty-kill units, is strong in the faceoff circle and has the versatility to play center or wing.
The 29-year-old has 150 goals and 186 assists in 479 career games with San Jose. He ranks 10th in his draft class in points per game (0.70) and is the only player in the top 15 to be selected after the second round.
"He's a hockey player," Wilson said. "We use him on the point on the power play, we use him on the first line, we use him on key faceoffs, blocking shots. He won a national championship in college for a reason. He's a winner. He's a great role model for many of our other players who are home-grown. The way he plays the game, it's not about stats, even though his stats are very impressive. It's about what you can do to make a difference to win a game.
He is third among all American-born players with 158 points over the past three seasons and has been invited to attend the United States' national team orientation camp next month in preparation for the 2014 Olympics. Pavelski won the silver medal with the Americans in Vancouver in 2010.
Pavelski has been a strong performer in the postseason throughout his career, with four goals and eight assists for a team-high 12 points in 11 playoff games last year. He has 24 goals and 26 assists in 74 career playoff games.
"I've played at a high level at times throughout my career and through stretches," Pavelski said. "It's about getting to that high level and maintaining it and expecting it on a nightly basis."
Locking up Couture and Pavelski long term was a key goal this offseason for the Sharks. They still have a few notable potential older free agents next summer in Thornton, Marleau and star defenseman Dan Boyle.
Wilson said he has already talked with all three about new deals but that Couture and Pavelski were the priority because they are younger.
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