The upcoming NHL Draft has Avalanche fans in a fit, wondering whether the team will drat Seth Jones or Nathan MacKinnon. Another question that will likely be answered at the NHL Draft is what the Avalanche plan to do with Paul Stastny.
Paul Stastny is one of two people, depending on which Avalanche fan you talk to. One camp sees Stastny as a skilled forward that is one of the biggest parts of the offense and his success ultimately leads to the team’s success. The other camp sees Stastny as a gigantic waste of money who has never lived up to the large number of his contract and should therefore be jettisoned from the team as soon as possible.
Regardless of which side of the tracks you stand on, there is no doubt that there are questions about Paul Stastny and whether or not he will be a part of the team this year; questions that fully came to light once Ryan O’Reilly was finally re-signed to the team. Will there be a Paul Stastny trade this summer?
Trade Paul Stastny
This particular option would seem the most likely if the Avalanche were to draft Nathan MacKinnon. If the Avalanche were to draft the Memorial Cup MVP, that would give the Avalanche far too many centers on one team. Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon and Marc Olver. If this remains the lineup down the middle, somebody is playing going to be used incorrectly, much like Stastny was this past season. Of all Avalanche centers, Stastny had the lowest offensive zone start percentage, which is just wrong.
So let’s pretend the Avalanche draft MacKinnon, of the remaining centers whom do you trade? Due to the rules surrounding offer sheets on restricted free agents, the Avalanche can’t trade Ryan O’Reilly until February 28th, 2014. This leaves you with the choice of either Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny. Out of these two, I would wager than every GM would make the decision to move Stastny rather than Duchene 10 out of 10 times.
The question here would become where do you trade Stastny and for whom? The Avalanche would love to get some solid defense, but would be unlikely to get anything substantial with just Stastny. Two down seasons and one year left on a contract before unrestricted free agency put Stastny’s trade value low until the deadline. To get the kind of difference maker they need, the Avalanche would need to come up with some kind of package involving Stastny.
Trade Stastny At the Trade Deadline
As I mentioned, Stastny’s trade value is down right now. He had a less than impressive year in which he was injured a couple of times this past season. This might be offset by his impressive showing at the recent IIHF World Championships where Stastny served as team captain for the USA, leading the team to a bronze medal with 15 points in 10 games.
If the Avalanche do truly wish to trade Stastny, it might be in their best interest to hold onto Stastny and allow him to translate some of that success from the World Championships to the regular season. If he can do this, perhaps several teams interested in a quality rental player could come knocking on Colorado’s door around the trade deadline.
Keep Stastny Around
The simplest option would be to just keep Stastny, especially if the Avalanche draft Seth Jones with the top pick. He is a valuable piece to the team, especially when he is on a roll.
His value to the team is easily visible by simply looking at his rank on the team in scoring throughout his career. In his seven years in the league, Paul Stastny has failed to be in the top three scorers on the Avalanche precisely one time. That happened to be in a season where he missed half the year.
If you look back over his last five seasons, Stastny has been close to a point per game player. He has 249 points in his last 319 games, giving him a .781 PPG average. Simply put, Stastny has been one of the team’s top scorers ever since he came into the league. Can you really ask for much more than that?
One other thing to note about Stastny is that his struggles in statistics never really came about until Joe Sacco came around. There was one season where he scored 79 points, but he, much like the team as a whole, went down hill once Sacco took over. Perhaps with a new coach, Stasty will be used correctly again and will start producing more. Interestingly enough, once he was used correctly during the World Championships, started to put up great numbers.
So What Do They Do?
It all depends on what the Avalanche do at the draft, but I am a firm believer that the Avalanche will not be better off without Paul Stastny. When used correctly, Stastny is a very formidable player and offensive threat. His history has shown that he produces for his team on a consistent basis and that his struggles began with Joe Sacco. Stastny has value to this team, whether he is traded or not, but the bottom line is that he will need to be a member of the Avalanche at the start of this season for the team for that value to show.
I’m a Denver native who has been a fan of the Avalanche since they came to town and a fan of the game before that. I started writing my own blog a couple years ago before moving to Bleacher Report and becoming a Featured Columnist there. You can also find me the Burgundy Brigade Podcast