The Vegas Golden Knights have reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year, $19.5 million with veteran center Paul Stastny, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The contract comes with an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
Entering the 2018 Free Agency period, Stastny was one of the biggest fish on the market as the next-best center available behind only John Tavares. The Winnipeg Jets were believed to be the front-runners to re-sign Stastny but the veteran decided to take his talent to Vegas with the NHL’s newest franchise.
The 32-year-old Stastny has played in the NHL for 13 seasons since being taken in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Avalanche before eventually signing a hefty contract with the St. Louis Blues that made him one of the top paid centers in the NHL. With his contract set to expire this offseason, the Blues elected to move Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets in a move that ultimately bolstered the Jets lineup so much that it made them one of the front-runners to win the Stanley Cup.
Because of the success that Stastny had as a member of the Jets in both the regular and postseason, the fit between the two seemed logical. In 19 games in Winnipeg to close out the regular season, Stastny scored four goals and 13 points in 19 games and looked like the perfect complement to both Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. His two-way game blended well with the youth and offense dynamic that were paired on his wings. Stastny would do even better in the postseason, scoring six goals and 15 points in 17 games.
Though the Jets fell short of their ultimate goal, re-signing Stastny could have gone a long way towards keeping them in the discussion as a front-runner for the Stanley Cup in 2019. Things didn’t go that way despite the Jets clearing up cap space a day prior in a trade with the Canadiens that sent Joel Armia and Steve Mason as well as two picks to the Montreal Canadiens for defense prospect Simon Bourque.
With the Golden Knights, Stastny is joining another one of the Western Conference’s best teams – a team that actually eliminated the Jets in the postseason and fell just short of winning the Stanley Cup in their first season. It’s unclear which team between Vegas and Winnipeg actually has a better chance at winning a Stanley Cup in the next few seasons but Stastny ultimately decided to bet on the Golden Knights in that regard.
A veteran of 824 games, Stastny has scored 220 goals and 646 points and has been a valuable two-way center throughout his career. While he may not produce points at the level that teams usually covet out of their first or second-line center, Stastny brings a lot to a team outside of offensive output and his defensive accountability is something that means something in evaluations as well.
Off the ice, Stastny is a leader who has been playing at hockey’s highest level for over a decade – that should bode well for the Golden Knights as they look to take the next step in their franchise and potentially win a Stanley Cup.