One of the bigger names who remain on the free agent market is Paul Stastny. While the 36-year-old is no longer the offensive star he was in his early days with the Colorado Avalanche, he has proven to still be a solid secondary scorer while maintaining his impressive defensive awareness. In 71 games last season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, he produced 21 goals and 45 points.
According to Chris Johnston, Stastny has been in no rush to sign a new deal, as his goal is to join a contender. Because of that, he is still patiently waiting to see how the market works itself out before making a decision. From the sounds of things, however, he will have no problem landing a deal when the time is right. With that said, here are three teams that make a ton of sense for the savvy veteran.
If the Colorado Avalanche do indeed move on from Nazem Kadri, replacing him with a much cheaper Stastny makes plenty of sense. While he would by no means replicate Kadri’s 87-point season, he would likely produce similar if not better offensive totals than he did in 2021-22 thanks to being part of a more talented roster. On top of that, he is comfortable with the organization, and there is arguably no better team to join when it comes to having Stanley Cup aspirations.
As things stand now, J.T. Compher appears to be the next man up to replace Kadri as the Avalanche’s second-line center. While he is a very dependable player, he is much better suited for a third-line role, and signing Stastny would likely bump him back down to that. That said, however, Stastny has also expressed that at this point and time in his career he is comfortable playing on the wing if his coach prefers him to do so.
Again, bringing in Stastny all boils down to what happens with Kadri, but if the Avalanche choose to make this happen, they have the option to do so. Not only would he require a short-term deal (likely one-year) but he wouldn’t demand a very high salary either, which bodes perfectly for a team that currently has only $3.91 million of cap space.
With the news on Tuesday that the Calgary Flames were able to re-sign both Oliver Kylington and Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Treliving now has just $1.26 million in cap space to work with moving forward. That said, his roster is pretty well set in stone at this point, though if he were to add Stastny to the fold, he could make a number of small moves to make it happen.
As far as why the Flames would want to add Stastny to the mix, the answer is rather simple; Mikael Backlund is not the second-line centerman he is being penciled in to be as of right now. While the 33-year-old is still a solid player, he has always been better suited as a third-line centerman and also showed some potential signs of regression this past season. Stastny would simply be a better option to man the Flames’ second line.
It is also worth noting that Stastny was highly complimentary of the Flames and head coach Darryl Sutter last season. He also brings a ton of veteran experience, something that Sutter values more than almost any other coach throughout the entire NHL. While they may not be at the level of the Avalanche, the Flames will once again be a highly competitive team in 2022-23, which should be quite enticing to Stastny.
Yes, yes, I know. The Winnipeg Jets are not likely to be contenders in 2022-23. Not only was there supposed turmoil in their locker room last season, but they have done absolutely nothing to improve their roster this summer. That said, Stastny has been open about the fact that he has loved playing in Winnipeg, and by no means ruled out a return. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has also expressed that bringing the veteran back remains a possibility.
“Yeah, we talked to Stas’s group today,” Cheveldayoff said less than a week ago.
“I don’t think any doors are closed, but whether he has options or choices, that will be up to him, I guess. But I guess you just never say never to him.”
The Jets currently have over $8.4 million in cap space, so they would have no issues bringing Stastny back from a money perspective. This will likely come down to the player deciding whether or not he wants to try and chase a Stanley Cup, or go back to where he is comfortable. It shouldn’t be overlooked that despite their struggles last season, they do have some talent in that dressing room, meaning a bounce back in 2022-23 may not be out of the realm of possibility.
Stastny Provides Value in Many Ways
As mentioned, Stastny still provides solid two-way play and should continue to do so in 2022-23. Age is of course a concern, but he showed no signs of regression this past season. Even if his play does begin to drop slightly, his presumably low cap hit shouldn’t make that much of a problem. His veteran experience and voice in the locker room in itself would provide benefits to several teams throughout the league. While he may continue to weigh his options for some time, we certainly haven’t seen the last of him in the NHL.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.