Estimating the Value of Paul Stastny

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Stastny's contract is up at the end of next season. What is his market value, and given the Avs depth at center, does it make more sense to trade him or re-sign him?

It's no secret that the Avs now have more centers than they know what to do with.

After drafting Nathan MacKinnon 1st Overall a month ago, the number of Top 6-caliber centermen employed by the organization has grown to four: MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Ryan O`Reilly, and Paul Stastny. Coach Patrick Roy has already announced a preliminary forward lineup with Duchene and O'Reilly (as a left wing) on the top line, Stastny on the second, and MacKinnon starting on the third. However, it's clear that having a 1st overall on the 3rd line is a temporary solution at best. Sooner or later, he's going to earn a spot on the top 2 lines.

Even if O'Reilly sticks as a wing, Duchene, Stastny, and MacKinnon will all be vying for only two center spots. Duchene just signed a 5-year extension with the team, and it's highly unlikely that MacKinnon will be moved any time soon. All signs indicate that those two are the future of the Avs, so where does this leave Stastny? The soon-to-be 28-year-old will be a UFA this coming summer, which means a decision needs to be made soon on whether re-sign him or move him before the deadline.

Which makes more sense for the Avs? What is Stastny's worth both as a free-agent and as a trade piece?

Let's start by looking at some stats.

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Comparables

First off, let's concentrate on how much he scores. As a forward, the higher his points-per-game rate is, the higher his value will be.

Chart 1: Career Points Per Game

PPG Rk Age Name GP G A P GPG APG PPG
19 26 Anze Kopitar 522 173 303 476 0.331 0.58 0.912
20 25 Jonathan Toews 408 167 205 372 0.409 0.502 0.912
21 29 Eric Staal 690 268 359 627 0.388 0.52 0.909
22 33 Brad Richards 900 256 560 816 0.284 0.622 0.907
23 36 Jarome Iginla 1232 530 576 1106 0.43 0.468 0.898
24 29 Alexander Semin 513 210 242 452 0.409 0.472 0.881
25 31 Marian Gaborik 769 336 338 674 0.437 0.44 0.876
26 25 Claude Giroux 333 91 200 291 0.273 0.601 0.874
27 23 John Tavares 291 112 137 249 0.385 0.471 0.856
28 37 Patrik Eliáš 1090 375 555 930 0.344 0.509 0.853
29 28 Paul Stastny 467 135 263 398 0.289 0.563 0.852
30 22 Taylor Hall 171 65 80 145 0.38 0.468 0.848
31 33 Vincent Lecavalier 1037 383 491 874 0.369 0.473 0.843
32 33 Henrik Sedin 940 182 610 792 0.194 0.649 0.843
33 33 Daniel Sedin 906 291 467 758 0.321 0.515 0.837
34 29 Thomas Vanek 585 250 238 488 0.427 0.407 0.834
35 34 Alex Tanguay 922 249 513 762 0.27 0.556 0.826
36 29 Rick Nash 718 310 279 589 0.432 0.389 0.82
37 41 Ray Whitney 1261 376 656 1032 0.298 0.52 0.818
38 29 Zach Parise 550 212 236 448 0.385 0.429 0.815
39 28 Corey Perry 574 220 245 465 0.383 0.427 0.81

Yes, you read that right. Paul Stastny is #29 in points per game among ALL active NHL forwards with at least 100 pts. True, most of them are assists, but his goals per game rate is still higher than Richards, Giroux, Tanguay, and H. Sedin in this range. He's also second to only Patrick Kane when it comes to American scorers. To say he's a member of some very elite company when it comes to career numbers is an understatement.

However, value is often determined more on what a player has done recently. With that in mind, let's take a look at his numbers over the past 2 seasons. This chart ranks him in comparison to all forwards who scored at least 0.5 PPG across both 20+ games in 2011-12 and 12+ games in 2013. The fact that Stastny hit at least that mark twice in his past two seasons speaks to his consistency.

Chart 2: Points Per Game From 2011-12 and 2013

Rk Age Name GP G A Pts GPG APG '12PPG '13PPG PPG
81 21 Ryan O'Reilly 110 24 51 75 0.218 0.464 0.679 0.690 0.682
82 25 Bobby Ryan 128 42 45 87 0.328 0.352 0.695 0.652 0.680
83 26 T.J. Oshie 110 26 48 74 0.236 0.436 0.675 0.667 0.673
84 30 Tomáš Plekanec 128 31 54 85 0.242 0.422 0.642 0.702 0.664
85 30 Mike Cammalleri 110 33 40 73 0.300 0.364 0.621 0.727 0.664
86 28 Alexander Steen 83 23 32 55 0.277 0.386 0.651 0.675 0.663
87 28 Ryan Kesler 94 26 36 62 0.277 0.383 0.636 0.765 0.660
88 32 Mike Fisher 110 34 38 72 0.309 0.345 0.708 0.553 0.655
89 37 Václav Prospal 130 28 57 85 0.215 0.438 0.671 0.625 0.654
90 27 Jeff Carter 103 47 20 67 0.456 0.194 0.618 0.688 0.650
91 28 Dustin Brown 128 40 43 83 0.313 0.336 0.659 0.630 0.648
92 27 Paul Stastny 119 30 47 77 0.252 0.395 0.671 0.600 0.647
93 20 Jeff Skinner 106 33 35 68 0.311 0.330 0.688 0.571 0.642
94 25 Bryan Little 122 31 47 78 0.254 0.385 0.622 0.667 0.639
95 24 David Perron 105 31 36 67 0.295 0.343 0.737 0.521 0.638
96 24 Wayne Simmonds 127 43 38 81 0.339 0.299 0.598 0.711 0.638
97 28 David Backes 130 30 52 82 0.231 0.400 0.659 0.583 0.631
98 26 Tyler Bozak 119 30 45 75 0.252 0.378 0.644 0.609 0.630
99 31 Dany Heatley 118 35 39 74 0.297 0.331 0.646 0.583 0.627
100 28 Jirí Hudler 123 35 42 77 0.285 0.341 0.617 0.643 0.626
101 27 Mike Richards 122 30 46 76 0.246 0.377 0.595 0.667 0.623
102 32 David Legwand 126 31 47 78 0.246 0.373 0.679 0.521 0.619
103 23 James van Riemsdyk 91 29 27 56 0.319 0.297 0.558 0.667 0.615
104 27 Nathan Horton 89 30 24 54 0.337 0.270 0.696 0.512 0.607
105 36 Shane Doan 127 35 42 77 0.276 0.110 0.633 0.563 0.606
106 31 Alexandre Burrows 127 41 35 76 0.323 0.087 0.65 0.511 0.598
107 22 Marcus Johansson 114 20 48 68 0.175 0.140 0.575 0.647 0.596
108 29 Derek Roy 122 24 48 72 0.197 0.172 0.55 0.667 0.590

Not quite as good, but there are still some very interesting names in there. Ranking in the 90s on this list implies that in an average year on an average team, Stastny is a 1st- or very good 2nd-line player.

However, Stastny's strengths don't stop with scoring. He's also highly skilled at gaining possession, and unlike most of the scorers above, Stastny has found himself starting his shifts in the defensive zone more often than not over the past two years. Here are some other forwards with similar minutes (less than 51% O-Zone starts and 20+ GP in 2012 and 2013). For the sake of formatting, only players who average 13+ minutes per night are shown.

Chart 3: Defensive Stats From 2011-12 and 2013

RK Name GP TOI/60 QoC Corsi PDO 12OZS% 13OZS% OZS% OZF% OZC%
74 Patrice Bergeron 123 14.05 -1.028 24.295 1030 47.6 42.4 45.0 49.8 4.8
76 Troy Brouwer 129 13.22 0.488 -4.530 986 46.7 43.4 45.1 45.9 0.9
78 Tomas Plekanec 128 13.41 0.386 -0.730 1000 42.8 47.6 45.2 47.6 2.4
79 Derek Roy 122 14.01 0.050 2.940 1008 48.9 41.7 45.3 50.8 5.5
80 T.J. Oshie 110 14.48 0.805 4.230 982 45.9 44.9 45.4 48.2 2.8
81 Brian Gionta 79 13.79 0.491 2.160 1002 43.9 47.2 45.6 48.4 2.8
87 Saku Koivu 121 13.60 0.605 0.910 1027.5 48.6 43.9 46.3 47.1 0.9
88 Christopher Higgins 112 13.11 -0.399 3.030 1002.5 46.6 46 46.3 49.7 3.4
89 Lee Stepniak 108 13.31 0.835 2.035 996 49.4 43.5 46.5 48.5 2.1
93 Paul Stastny 119 14.61 0.250 -0.870 976.5 50.7 42.5 46.6 51.8 5.2
99 Alex Tanguay 104 14.24 0.935 -7.205 996.5 49.6 45.2 47.4 47.1 -0.4
103 Adam Henrique 116 13.83 -0.465 8.130 982.5 47.4 47.9 47.7 47.8 0.1
105 Ryan Getzlaf 126 15.85 0.825 4.255 1002 47.7 47.6 47.7 51.8 4.1
107 Claude Giroux 125 14.83 0.568 4.400 991 48.1 47.3 47.7 49.2 1.5
109 Tomas Kopecky 127 13.07 0.247 -3.245 997.5 45.6 50.0 47.8 45.6 -2.2
114 R.J. Umberger 125 13.70 1.237 -8.020 1012.5 48.6 47.8 48.2 48.6 0.4
116 Jordan Staal 110 14.89 0.126 10.700 966.5 47.8 48.8 48.3 47.8 -0.5
122 Corey Perry 124 15.40 0.599 5.655 998.5 48.6 48.8 48.7 48.6 -0.1
125 David Perron 105 14.25 0.687 4.210 1012 47.3 50.8 49.1 47.3 -1.8

Players with similar PPG totals from the past 2 years (Chart 2) are in bold. Those players (Plekanec, Roy, Oshie, and Perron) will likely give us the best idea of Stastny's worth. To broaden the search, players from Chart 2 will also be included if applicable.

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Trade Value

In keeping with the 2 year theme, these are the players from Chart 2 who have been traded during that time.

Date Comparable Teams Return
7/10/13 David Perron STL-EDM Magnus Paajarvi, 2014 2nd
7/5/13 Bobby Ryan ANA-OTT Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, 2014 1st
4/2/13 Derek Roy DAL-VAN Kevin Connauton (D), 2013 2nd
7/2/12 Derek Roy BUF-DAL Steve Ott, Adam Pardy (D)
6/23/12 James van Reimsdyk PHI-TOR Luke Schenn (D)
2/23/12 Jeff Carter CBJ-LAK Jack Johnson (D), Cond. 2012 1st
1/12/12 Michael Cammalleri, Karri Ramo (G), 2012 5th MTL-CGY Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland (F), 2013 2nd
7/3/11 Dany Heatley SJS-MIN Martin Havlat
6/23/11 Jeff Carter PHI-CBJ Jakub Voracek, 2011 1st, 2011 3rd
6/23/11 Mike Richards, Rob Bordson (F) PHI-LAK Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmons, 2012 2nd

Arguably, the worst return with this crowd was a very solid prospect and a 2nd rounder for Derek Roy or David Perron. The one-for-one trades (JVR and Heatley) returned either a top 4 blueliner or a top 6 forward of a similar age. Otherwise, we are looking at a roster player + solid prospects and/or 1st/2nd round picks.

There is very little question that if Stastny is traded it will be for a defenseman due to the Avs needs at that position. Based on this list, in a one-to-one trade, I'd expect perhaps not an elite blueliner, but at least an All-Star coming back - someone in the Yandle or Phaneuf range. If a younger defenseman is brought in, more along the lines of Gardiner or Gudbranson, then a 1st or 2nd to sweeten the pot would be fair.

Either way, that is one heck of a return and could have a drastic influence on the team's overall success.

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Re-Sign Value

Name Age PPG Cap Years Signed
Ryan O'Reilly 21 0.682 5.000 2 2013
T.J. Oshie 26 0.673 4.175 5 2012
Mike Fisher 32 0.655 4.200 2 2013
Dustin Brown 28 0.648 5.875 8 2013
Paul Stastny 27 0.647
Jeff Skinner 20 0.642 5.725 6 2013
Average 26 0.641 4.593 5
Bryan Little 25 0.639 4.700 5 2013
David Perron 24 0.638 3.812 4 2012
Wayne Simmonds 24 0.638 3.975 6 2013
David Backes 28 0.631 4.500 5 2011
Tyler Bozak 26 0.630 4.200 5 2013
Jirí Hudler 28 0.626 4.000 4 2012
James van Riemsdyk 23 0.615 4.250 6 2012
Nathan Horton 27 0.607 5.300 7 2013

Based on this chart, it's likely Stastny's next contract will be in the 5-year, $25 million ballpark. Unless he has an absolutely outstanding season, I doubt he makes much over $5 mil a year on his next contract.

***

Conclusions

I honestly believe that by the mid-point of next season, Stastny will have surpassed many of these comparables. Based on his career numbers and his unsustainable low PDO over the past couple seasons (because 977 is DIFFERENT than 1000), a bounce-back year from Mr. Stastny wouldn't surprise me one bit. Add in a new coach, a contract year, and new linemates - Alex Tanguay and Gabriel Landeskog are a definite step up over who he's been playing with in the past few years - and I firmly expect the old Stastny to return, even if his offensive zone starts remain fairly low.

However, even if he holds steady at his current rate, he gives the Avs some options. His trade return would likely be very solid and address some key issues with the team, so if we are still in the playoff hunt by the deadline, it could be just the thing to push us over the edge. On the other hand, if we can find a way to fit him into the roster long-term, a fair $5 mil cap hit frees up $1.6 mil vs his current deal while still guaranteeing the Avs his consistent scoring, versatility, and veteran presence. It's a no-lose situation.... as long as a decision is made before free-agency begins next year. Losing someone like Paul Stastny to UFA would be a huge blow to the franchise.

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