Window Shopping: Paul Stastny

Paul Stastny celebrating a Game 7 goal against the Minnesota Wild. If it was his last as an Av then something went horribly, horribly wrong. - Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Because he's the only UFA we should care about right now.

AJ got us off to a start with a preview on free agency's top defender Matt Niskanen, so it only makes sense that we would finish today off with a preview on the NHL's best free agent forward this season.  Paul Stastny.

Paul Stastny

#26 / Center / Anywhere but Colorado so we can stop counting on a discount.

6-0

205

2013 Cap Hit: $6,600,000

Age: 26


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT

2013 - 2014  Paul Stastny

Playoffs

71

7

25

5

35

5

60

10

9

-1

22

4

4

1

0

1

4

1


150

13

16.7%

38.5%


Strengths:

After a disappointing 2012-2013 campaign Paul Stastny responded well to his team's coaching change and turned in a solid season on both sides of the puck.  On a young, inexperienced team with a new, demanding defensive system, Stastny was a steadying presence for his teammates, taking the hardest match-ups every night and still producing 60 points in an injury shortened season.  Stastny's vision and "IceQ" are elite in today's NHL and they allow him to play in any on ice situation.  Need a big faceoff win in either zone? Stastny. (He was a solid 54% in the regular season).  Power play? Penalty Kill? Stastny.  Up a goal? Down a goal? Stastny.  This guy just does it all and he does it with a smile.  Perhaps Stastny's greatest strength is his passing.  Combined with his defensive ability and his general hockey smarts Stastny's passing ability is just another weapon in his toolbox aimed at making his line-mates better.  Need proof? Mediocre players like Wojtek Wolski, Chris Stewart, and David Jones all had great seasons on Paul Stastny's wing.  Give Stastny the puck, especially behind the opposition net and the puck will be on his linemates stick in a scoring area within moments.  Behind the net is Stasnty's workshop and he is deadly there.  Stastny is cool as a cucumber in every situation and rarely gets rattled on the ice.

Weaknesses:

Paul Stastny is a well rounded player to be sure, but he doesn't have that superstar flash and he's never been a finisher at heart.  Stastny doesn't have game breaking speed or stick skills, so he is unlikely to take over a game on his own and drag his team to victory.  Unfortunately this means that when Stastny's linemates are struggling, he can become pretty quiet offensively.  That said, when Stastny is clicking with his linemates they can be dominant as a group.  Stastny's shot is above average, but he rarely looks to finish the play on his own.  Stastny's first instinct is almost always the pass and his reluctance to take the puck to the net himself sometimes costs him quality scoring opportunities.

Contract:

After an outstanding 185 points in Paul Stastny's first 193 games in the NHL, he was rewarded with a 5-year contract that paid $6.6M per year.  In the first year of his new contract Stastny nearly reached the PPG mark again, scoring 79 points in 81 games.  In his next 3 full seasons with a struggling team in the middle of a rebuild Stastny scored 57, 53, and 60 points.  Respectable numbers, but a somewhat significant dip from his first four seasons.  While Stastny's production has dipped, the salary cap grew $14.3 million over the course of his last contract.  That fact, combined with the very thin market for centers ensures that Stastny will get a serious payday on July 1st (or earlier).  With players like Brad Richards ($6.66M) and Mikko Koivu ($6.75) in the league Stastny has plenty of comaparables to ensure that he keeps his salary, and with the demand for a #1 or #2 center, he could even seek a raise from the UFA market.  Expect Stastny to receive a contract with a cap hit between $6.6 and $7 million.

Why It Works:

He's not the guy that every fan buys a jersey of, but he's the kind of guy that every competitive team needs.  He plays in every situation and finds a way to elevate his game, and that of his linemates when the stakes get high.  He would be a bonafide #2 center in Colorado, allowing Patrick Roy to gift the dynamic Matt Duchene with offensive zone starts while protecting Nathan MacKinnon from difficult defensive assignments early in his career.  With his passing ability, he is a natural fit to play with Nathan MacKinnon and/or Gabriel Landeskog.  A true setup man for a pair of finishers.  Stastny would give the Avalanche strong two-way play in their top six, something that could be in short supply if the team is forced to trade Ryan O`Reilly.

My Take:

It's time to start thinking about Paul Stastny for what he is. Paul Stastny is not the hometown boy who will stay for whatever we offer him.  He's not the overpaid scapegoat that some fans and media have characterized him as at points in his Avalanche career.  He's not going to stay here just because he likes us and we "overpaid him" last time.  He's a high caliber UFA and top flight player and he needs to be wooed and signed like one.

Paul Stastny would be an enormous asset to any NHL team and in one short week he can start talking contracts with all 30 of them.  The Avs would be unspeakably foolish if they let him get that far.  Back at the trade deadline there were rumors circulating that the Avalanche would ask Paul Stastny to take a pay cut because they felt he had "banked" money with them over his last contract, which they felt was an overpayment.  That is not how this business works.  Period.  The Avalanche have the cap space to re-sign Paul Stastny.  Kroenke Sports has the money to re-sign Paul Stastny.  Paul Stastny says that he wants to remain an Av.  At this point, any scenario in which Paul Stastny is not a member of the Colorado Avalanche this September is a colossal failure and should speak volumes about KSE's commitment to winning a Stanley Cup.  It really is that simple.

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