As one of my favorite Avs skaters, it’d be tough to see it happen, but is there a possibility the Avalanche will seek out a suitor for Paul Statsny this summer? As the team continues to rebuild, and stay near the cap floor, it certainly could be an option worth pursuing this summer given the depth at center on the Avalanche. Colorado’s primary need this summer is to address the team’s goaltending situation but they could also look to add some help at left wing, and perhaps adding some size on defense/prospects in the system. The Avs could also use a power forward capable of scoring 30-40 goals a season to replace Chris Stewart’s production.
Plenty of teams are poised to make bids on UFA Brad Richards this summer. Richards will likely command a little more than Stastny’s $6.6 million salary next season; a contract that will have 3 years remaining heading into Stastny’s prime. Stastny’s steep price tag may make it difficult for some clubs to make a pitch, but he’d be a very valuable commodity for any club to say the least. Stastny is one of the league’s premier playmakers, and although he had an off-year last season, he was still able to post 22 goals and 35 assists in 74 games played.
Certainly the Avs wouldn’t move Stastny unless they’re adding depth, a proven sniper or a number one goaltender although the goaltender may be found in this year’s free agent class (come on Bryzgalov!). I thought it’d be fun to play GM for a sec and lay out some different trade scenarios.
Toronto is hungry for a number one center and GM Brian Burke has been known to make some crazy deals (e.g. Kessel trade). The Leafs have some nice assets in their system, but desperately need a center like Stastny to help players like Kessel succeed. The Leafs will likely try to sign free agent center Brad Richards this summer, but if that shouldn’t come to fruition, they’ll look to make a trade to find their guy.
The Leafs will likely put defenseman Mike Komisarek on their trade block, and wouldn’t blink to move a draft pick for a player of Stastny’s caliber. If I’m moving Stastny to Toronto, however, I’d like to see some other scenarios play out – a nice package that would include a combination of draft pick(s), Nazem Kadri, Nikolai Kulemin, Keith Aulie, and/or Luca Caputi. The best deal in my opinion would be Nikolai Kulemin & Keith Aulie in exchange for Paul Stastny. Kulemin is a big-bodied left winger that plays well in both ends of the ice. He skates well and scored 30 goals and added 27 assists this past season for the Leafs. His work ethic and attitude would make for a great addition to our Avs squad.
Aulie is a physical specimen at 6’6", 217 lbs. He’s still trying to fill out his body and find some extra coordination, but the guy has the promise and potential to be a solid shut-down defender. Aulie played in 40 games last season with the Leafs scoring 2 goals and was -1. He’ll turn 22 years old in June.
Nazem Kadri would be a nice addition as well, but the Avs have plenty of smaller skaters similar to Kadri. He has some very nice upside but his size and position wouldn’t make sense for the Avs.
The Rangers are another team that could use a boost at center next season. They’re rumored to be interested in Richards as well but they have limited cap space which may make it difficult to even be considered as a trade partner with the Avs for Stastny. If they are able to clear cap space this offseason, the Rangers have some decent assets they could dangle in a deal for Stastny namely Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Michael Sauer, Chris Drury, Artem Anisimov, and (cough) Wojtek Wolski. I’m sure the Rangers would love to move Drury and Wolski because of their big contracts and inability to live up to those contracts. The amount in which they’re being paid, however, make them unlikely to even be considered by Avs management this offseason. Sauer’s breakout season and his low cap hit ($500k) make him an unlikely candidate to be traded by the Rangers.
The most likely scenario would be for the Rangers to move defenseman Marc Staal ($3.975 million cap hit – 5 years) and Ryan Callahan (RFA) in a deal for Stastny and another serviceable player such as TJ Galiardi or Kyle Cumiskey. Staal is a solid shut-down defender with great size and has the ability to contribute offensively. Callahan is a hard-nosed grinder that had a breakout season this year with the Rangers scoring 23 goals, 25 assists in 60 games played. Callahan would be an upgrade over Galiardi and would likely command a little more than the $2.3 million he made last season.
Washington has some depth at goal and could look at moving one of Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth or Braden Holtby this offseason. They also have a Russian left winger that has come under scrutiny the past few postseasons in Alex Semin but has a history of lighting the lamp during the regular season. It’s no secret the Avs need a goaltender, and if they can’t find one via free agency, perhaps Washington would make for a trading partner??? Sherman and company completed a nice deal last fall for Tomas Fleischmann so there’s already a history between the two clubs.
Here’s another team that we could send Stastny and someone like Kyle Cumiskey to, and pickup Semin and Varlamov or Neuvirth. Both goaltenders possess a lot of upside and will be only 23 years old at the start of next season. Varlamov is a RFA this offseason, and we’ll likely hear his name linked to KHL rumors seeing as how he’s Russian and looking for money. Neuvirth has two more seasons left on his $1.150 million entry-level deal.
If I were to choose, I’d select Neuvirth who had more playing time than Varlamov this past season. Neuvirth played in 48 games this past season posting a 2.45 gaa and .914 sv% while going 27-12-4 with 4 shutouts. Varlamov on the other hand played in 27 games going 11-9-5 with a 2.23 gaa and .924 sv% with 2 shutouts. Varlamov did miss quite a few games to injury, and as an Avs fan you definitely have to be concerned about something like that. So my best trade scenario would be something like Neuvirth & Semin for Stastny & Cumiskey.
Alex Semin would add a big-time sniper to the Colorado roster - something we could definitely use. His contract next is comparable to Stastny's with a $6.7 million cap hit. He only has one year remaining on this deal. Following this contract, the Avs could hopefully lock Semin up to a 3-4 year deal worth $21 million-$
Semin alongside Matt Duchene … watch out NHL defenders!
Basically every team in the league would love to have a player of Stastny’s caliber. I’m certain if the Avs were to shop him, the Wild, Kings and possibly a few others would make a serious pitch as well. For the Avs to move him, however, they’d need to either add a gifted sniper (e.g. Alex Semin), a number one goaltender or some depth. They’d also have to be sure that either Ryan O’Reilly or Joey Hishon could slide into that second line spot behind Matt Duchene to ensure they’re taken care of down the middle. Both centers look to have that top-six ability, but will have to produce offensively on a consistent basis.