Pavelski may be out of chances to win a Stanley Cup after the Dallas Stars came up short again

Joe Pavelski might be out of chances to win a Stanley Cup title after the Dallas Stars came up short again

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Joe Pavelski might be out of chances to win a Stanley Cup title after the Dallas Stars came up short again.

It is unclear if the nearly 40-year-old Pavelski wants to give it another try after a combined 1,533 NHL games, and now back-to-back seasons that ended in the Western Conference Final with a Game 6 loss. Even if he does, there is no certainty of a new contract since he is unsigned past this season.

"I don't know if it'll be Joe's last game or not, but absolute privilege of my coaching career to coach a guy like that," Stars coach Pete DeBoer said after a 2-1 loss in the series finale at Edmonton. "And our young players are all better for having been around a guy like that."

Instead of getting home Monday to prepare for another Game 7, a situation in which DeBoer is 8-0 with four different teams, the season was over for West top seed Dallas.

After quickly going ahead 2-0 in Game 4 at Edmonton, when it appeared the Stars were ready to take a stranglehold on that series, they were outscored 10-2 the final 175 minutes of the West final. The Oilers had two power-play goals in each of the last two games, after none the first four games.

“Hockey's hard, you need a lot of things to go right. You need to have that opportunity. We had that opportunity,” forward Tyler Seguin said. “We went through a gantlet and beat some really good teams and knew we had something special. And lost to a team that we thought we could beat. ... That’s why this is the hardest damn trophy in the world to win."

Dallas got through the first two rounds this postseason against Vegas and Colorado, the last two Stanley Cup champions, then got knocked out by an Edmonton team with Hart Trophy finalist Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

The 32-year-old Seguin is the only player on the Stars roster who has won a Stanley Cup, as a 19-year-old rookie with Boston in 2011.

Ryan Suter's 1,577 total games (1,444 regular season and 133 playoffs) are the most among active league players without one. The 39-year-old defenseman who has another season on his contract hasn't even made it to a Cup title, and hadn't been to a West final before the last two with Dallas.

Two other Stars players have more than 1,000 games played without a title. Their captain Jamie Benn turns 35 in July, and will be going into the final year of his contract, while Matt Duchene can become an unrestricted free agent after joining them last summer.

Pavelski has been in 1,332 regular-season games and is the only player in NHL history with at least 200 playoff games that hasn't won a Cup — he made the final with San Jose in 2016 and Dallas in 2020. His 74 career playoff goals are the most among active players, and the most ever for a U.S.-born player, but had only one in 19 games this postseason.

This was Pavelski's fifth season with Dallas after 13 with San Jose, where he was captain his last four seasons when DeBeor was the Sharks coach.

“All-time teammate, person,” Benn said of Pavelski. Great leader. Good friend."

STILL YOUNG

While the Stars were among the NHL's oldest teams this season, they have a lot of young talent.

Wyatt Johnston turned 21 in the playoffs and has played in all 202 of their games the past two seasons. He was the team's top goal-scorer in the regular season (32) and playoffs (10) this season.

Logan Stankoven, also 21, will still be an NHL rookie next season after 24 regular-season games and 19 playoff games. Mavrik Bourque, the AHL's top player, made his playoff debut in the final game after one NHL game during the regular season.

“The young players played a pivotal role all year,” DeBoer said.

Defenseman Miro Heiskanen and forward Jason Robertson both turn 25 this summer. Goalie Jake Oettinger, also part of that 2017 draft haul, is already 25.

“I think really bright,” Johnston said when asked about the team's future. “We've got our veterans that have that experience and are kind of leading us the way. A lot of really good guys who have a lot of hockey ahead, and even our older guys have a lot of really good hockey ahead of them.”

POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS

Pavelski and Duchene are among six Stars who can become unrestricted free agents. The others are defenseman Chris Tanev, the trade-deadline acquisition who played the final two games after taking a puck off his right foot in Game 4, center Craig Smith, defenseman Jani Hakanpaa and backup goalie Scott Wedgewood.

Hakanpaa last played March 20, and missed the entire playoffs with a lower-body injury.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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