Stastny, that is the question. It is a question that has plagued the Avs and their fans for years. Now, with the help of a few Avalanche bloggers, we will try to answer the question.
Joining me today are Cheryl Bradley of MileHighHockey, Ryan Boulding of Hockey on the Rocks, Kevin Goff of the Hockey Writers and Joey Suyeishi, fellow contributor on Avalanche Avenues have each submitted an article covering the topic
I love Stastny. I think that he is far better and contributes much more than people give him credit for. Like his personality, he's quietly good. When O'Reilly was out, he took on the responsibility of being that solid defensive center, and although he's always been a fantastic two-way player, he should be used more offensively. O'Reilly's return was both a good thing and a bad thing for our beloved SoS.
It was good because Stastny was given more chances to generate offense, which is what he's best at. It was bad because it made people realize that either he or O'Reilly must go. Duchene, Stastny and O'Reilly all need top minutes in a game to be truly effective. With all three playing, it can't happen. Thus, one of them most likely needs to go. Duchene isn't going anywhere. Unless things drastically change, I expect him to be a lifer in Colorado. After Calgary screwed everyone with that ridiculous offer sheet, it's unlikely O'Reilly will be traded anywhere even after that year-long stay-of-execution expires—unless, of course, it's to Calgary, but who the hell would they have that's worthwhile? Maybe they could give us a first and second round pi---- oh wait. So, sadly, that leaves Stastny. He'll be on the last year of his contract, which makes him attractive to other GMs. He's been playing with less than stellar wingers, so his production is bound to increase (most likely back to that PPG pace) with the right talent next to him, which also makes him an interesting piece in a GM's mind. And he's a proven top-6 center who's versatile and strong in the face off circle, making him look very shiny and sparkly to potential trade partners.
Here's my bottom line: I don't want Statsny to go, but I don't see any other way to move forward with this team. The Avalanche need two key ingredients to take the rebuild to the next level: a top-2 defenseman for Johnson and a top-3 winger to play with Duchene and Parenteau. One of those has to come through trade, and Stastny is the biggest, most tradeable asset the Avs have. If he has to go, package him up with a marinated and talented prospect, David "16-million-dollar-man" Jones and a high pick and get a top-tier d-man back, while drafting Jonathan Drouin. Or draft Seth Jones and get that winger. Either way, something's gotta give, and since Mr. Character can't be traded in the off-season, it most likely will be Pauly Walnuts who goes. (And I will be a sad camper when it happens.)
Paul Stastny. The very sound of his name creates division amongst the Avalanche fan base. Some of the Avalanche faithful think he’s worn out his welcome and can no longer benefit this team the way he did earlier in his career. They see his contract paying him $6.6 million a year and have decided that he is a bust because of his contract.
There are others of us who believe that, while he might not have lived up to his big contract, he is still a valuable part of the team. This is the side of the tracks where I prefer to stand.
First, I find it ridiculous to judge a player by his contract saying that if a player making $6 million per season needs to score “x” amount of points. If you pay a player that type of money, you are paying him to be one of your top scorers, and that is exactly what Paul Stastny has been. In every single one of his seasons, except for one season where he missed half of the season to injury, Stastny has been in the top three scorers on the team. If the season ended today, even though Stastny spent a some time injured this season, he would be third on the team in scoring again. Those are results, ladies and gentlemen.
If you want more specific numbers, that’s fine. In the past five season, Stasty has played 315 games. In these 315 games, Stastny has 246 points. No, this isn’t a point- per-game pace, but it does come out to a .781 points per game pace. Basically, in a two-game span, it’s more than likely that Stastny will have gotten at least one point in those two games.
Stastny has also proven himself to be more than helpful in the faceoff circle. Over the past five seasons, Stastny has average 52.54% on his faceoffs. Stastny has also been second on the team in shots on goal in three of the last four seasons. Basically, Paul Stastny is always involved offensively, takes faceoffs well and has been one of our top producers every season that he has been in this league.
It’s for all of these reasons that Paul Stastny needs to remain a member of the Colorado Avalanche beyond this season. If Paul Stastny were sent away from this team, Avalanche fans would quickly notice that the team is worse without him.
That being said, there is trade value for Paul Stastny on the market. If the Avalanche do trade him, they had better trade him for a legitimate top-6 forward that has proven their abilities in the league. I like the idea of packaging Stastny with a young defensive prospect and possibly a draft pick for Bobby Ryan.
Still, if push were to come to shove, keep Stastny and let him see what a new coach will do for his career. After all, his points didn’t start dropping until Joe Sacco took over as coach.
Paul Stastny became an instant fan favorite when he burst on to the scene for the Colorado Avalanche in the 2006-2007 season. Stastny came to the Avs with strong ties to the organization due to his Hall of Fame father, Peter Stastny and two uncles, Anton and Marian all having played for the Quebec Nordiques as well has his time spent at the University of Denver, where he helped guide the Pioneers to an NCAA championship. In his first pro season, Stastny put up a very respectable 78 points and finished second in the Calder Trophy voting to only Evgeni Malkin.
Into his third season, then-general manager Francois Giguere signed Stastny to a six-year, $33 million deal. Now, approaching the end of the fifth year of his six-year contract, Stastny has only eclipsed the 60-point mark once since signing the big contract, putting up a career-high 79 points in 2009-10.
Once thought to be the future of the Colorado Avalanche at the center position, the heir apparent to the legendary Joe Sakic, Stastny's future with the team remains clouded and controversial. In 2009, the Avs drafted centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, both of whom made an immediate impact with the team. The Avs have also since drafted Joey Hishon and acquired Michael Sgarbossa, so if and when the latter two develop into top-line NHL centers, the Avs will have a logjam at the position.
So what does the future hold for No. 26? He's been an alternate captain of the Avs for years now, but has also been passed up twice for the captaincy with Milan Hejduk being named in 2011 and Gabe Landeskog being named in 2012. The youngest captain in NHL history, Landeskog certainly appears to be a long-term captain.
There always seem to be players whose names are constantly thrown into the trade rumors. Alex Tanguay and John-Michael Liles were for years, until they both were in fact, eventually traded. Since the emergence of Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, Stastny's name has been in the trade rumors incessantly.
Should the Avs trade Paul Stastny? The answer to this is not as simple as it may sound. Even with his declining numbers over the past few years (57 and 53 points respectively over the past two seasons and 24 points in 40 games this season), Stastny is still a valuable second-line center. After a disappointing, injury-plagued season, Matt Duchene resurged with a vengeance and has established himself as the team's No. 1 center. After a breakout 2011-12 season, Ryan O'Reilly's momentum came to a halt with a bitter contract dispute, which would have very likely ended his tenure in Colorado had it not been for an offer sheet from Calgary that Avs GM Greg Sherman quickly matched. O'Reilly is now back...but for how long? The Avs are prohibited from trading O'Reilly until at least February 28th, 2014, one year after the deal was signed. Players with a history of battling Avs management over contracts or other reasons have not had a long history of remaining with the team thereafter. Sandis Ozolinsh, Chris Drury, and Craig Anderson come to mind. O'Reilly will make a whopping $6.5 million next season and will certainly want a long-term deal for that type of money beyond next year. Duchene, goaltender Semyon Varlamov, and captain Gabe Landeskog also have expiring contracts at the end of the 2013-14 season and will also need to be paid. If the Avs are willing to retain O'Reilly long-term and believe he is the No. 2 center of the future, then Stastny is certainly expendable.
O'Reilly is certainly getting paid like a top-line center, but is he truly a top-line guy? His defensive play (takeaways and penalty killing) is what earned him accolades throughout his first three seasons. His offensive "breakout" was 55 points, 24 fewer than Stastny's career best. On paper, Paul Stastny is your second-line center and O'Reilly is your third. Trading Stastny and making O'Reilly go-to second-line center comes with much risk given O'Reilly's uncertain future here and unproven offensive potential.
Hishon and/or Sgarbossa could certainly develop into bona fide top NHL centers as well, but at this point, it is certainly a risk. With only a year left on his contract, overpriced as it may be, teams may be inquiring about Stastny's availability and at next year's trade deadline, he could be an attractive rental. At this point, with so much uncertainty surrounding a last place team, I would hold on to Staz unless there is a can't-miss deal on the table. Despite his bloated contract and underwhelming numbers of late, Stastny is more valuable than many Avs fans seem to realize. The Avs' biggest weakness right now is the defense. If Stastny can be traded or even packaged for a top NHL defenseman like Shea Weber or Keith Yandle, I would certainly make that move. Is Stastny part of the future? The time for patience has run out. Time for action.
If Paul Stastny didn't have value, he wouldn't still be with the Colorado Avalanche. Yes his contract makes him hard to move and no he didn't put up a dearth of points last season, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have an upside. The problem is that the Avalanche have too many top pairing centers. With Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, and Paul Stastny filling up the lines, someone has to move down to a more defensive position. That was Stastny.
From here on out, Colorado cannot allow one of those three to squander their talent in a third line role. It's detrimental to all involved. It hurts Duchene and O'Reilly the most, which is why Stastny fell to a more defensive role. He saw a lot of d-zone starts and wasn't expect to put up as many points. The club also has John Mitchell, Chuck Kobasew, and Mark Olver to fill out the bottom pairings. Because of Colorado's predicament, one of the three centers needs to move. In this instance, the one that makes the most sense is Stastny. He's older, he knows more, and he could be part of a package deal to a team like Edmonton that needs more tenured players to prop up their youth.
Stastny can regain some of his earlier output if he's playing on a team with strong wings and equally offensive lines. He needs space to make things happen and teammates to feed the puck to. It also helps when his line mates can dish him nice passes. He is playing extremely well right now in the World Championships - under Joe Sacco - so that helps his case as well.
The Paul Stastny debate is a never ending one and one that is a struggle, personally. On one hand I have one of the great playmakers in the league who can find open players through two or three defenders. One the other I have a player making $6.6 million who rarely comes up big in big games.
As far as it concerns the Avs, Stastny may have played his last game. He has the potential to be a good top six center who will put up nearly a point per game, assuming he has players on his wing that can score. With three centers on the Avs and two best wingers, P.A. Parenteau and Gabriel Landeskog, paired with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, respectively, it seems like the time to move on from Stastny.
Stastny is still a good player and will make a good impact on a team while he's not sharing minutes with two other centers. Though the contract of Ryan O'Reilly is harder to bear, just because of the disasterous... negotiations for lack of a better word that led to the offer sheet being levied on them.
As the Avs cannot trade O'Reilly until almost next years trade deadline, I would put Stastny in a deal for a top four defenseman and a prospect centerman who can be called up should the O'Reilly situation disolve again. With this deal, part of me will be happy to have resolution and another will be sad to see Stastny leave.
What say you? Trade Stastny or keep him and trade O'Reilly?