COMMENTARY | Paul Stastny is a hot commodity. Some teams salivate when they think about acquiring this top center. Are they just generating rumors in the hopes of stirring the pot? Or with the salary caps in place, do the Colorado Avalanche need to trim the fat in order to pay for elite contracts such as Matt Duchene's? Teams want Stastny, who brings both tangible and intangible skills to the ice. That puts the Colorado Avalanche in a dilemma.
What Stastny Brings
Stastny is a strong two-way center. He's also got a better faceoff percentage right now than star Matt Duchene: 54 percent to 48.3 percent. To date he has 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points. He's +9 so far on the season. These are great stats. These are not superstar stats, though.
Stastny brings several intangible talents to the table, though. He's an excellent backchecker, and the Avs always need good defense. At 28, he's also, literally, a reasonable force in the locker room. With 22-year-old Matt Duchene playing big brother to the other important center, 18-year-old Nate MacKinnon, Stastny provides needed leadership to the young pups. Stastny also has hockey sense bred into him. He's the son and nephew of several hockey heroes, including Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, whom Paul just calls "Dad." In fact, former Avs coach Joel Quneville praised his play-making abilities and ice vision, crediting the Stastny lineage.
Who Wants Stastny
There are plenty of teams who have their center positions settled and don't need a role model with excellent hockey sense. A few teams do, though. The New Jersey Devils could use Stastny at center, perhaps passing pucks to veteran superstar Jaromir Jagr. The pair could bond over tales of Eastern Europe, from where Jagr hails and Stastny's parents defected. The Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn't mind getting their hands on Stastny. Who knows - with the shake-up going on in Winnipeg, even the Jets might consider giving Avalanche executive vice president Joe Sakic a ring.
The team that's really chomping at the bit to get at Stastny, though, is the Montreal Canadiens. According to The Denver Post's Adrian Dater, the Canadiens have been scouting Stastny all season. Concerning face offs won, Stasnty's better than anyone currently on the Habs roster. Stastny might not be a franchise player for them, but he'd certainly strengthen the ailing team.
Why Colorado Faces a Dilemma
Head coach Patrick Roy told Dater back in October that having three strong centers in Duchene, MacKinnon and Stastny was, "a beautiful problem." He explained, "We're very lucky. You look at all the teams at the top of the standings, they all have three very good centers and four good lines. When you build a team, you want to build it [up] the middle."
However, the Avs still face a dilemma. Stastny's contract is up at the end of the season, at which time he'll be an unrestricted free agent. If they hold on to him now, they could lose him and get nothing in return come the summer.
So, will the Avs give in and accept something remarkable from Montreal or another franchise in exchange for Stastny? I don't think so. Paul Stastny's a seasoned hockey pro. He's strong both offensively and defensively. He's +9 and has the highest faceoff win percentage on the team. Great hockey leaders also chose him for a US Olympic team that doesn't include Erik Johnson or Bobby Ryan, both of whom went much higher in the draft than Stastny.
Most significantly, coach Roy had already put his faith in the veteran center before Colorado even became a contender. Roy has stated his only resolution for 2014 is to bring the Cup to Denver. Paul Stastny is an intangibly valuable player. If the Avs hope to pass the first round of the playoffs, they need to hang on to him.
Nadia Archuleta is a native Coloradan and professional writer. An Avalanche fan since their beginnings, she has a sports blog, Hockeygrrls on Blogger, and writes content for several websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Paul Stastny
- Colorado Avalanche
- Peter Stastny
- Matt Duchene