We turn to recent times for #13 on the list of the 18 greatest Colorado Avalanche of all-time. Sure, the Avalanche haven’t been very good in recent years but they have had a player or two worth their salt.
A couple have even come flying in from under the radar to do big things. Paul Stastny is the epitome of “under the radar” for the Avalanche.
Oct 17, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny (26) before their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Avalanche beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The son of NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, who played for the Nordiques before their move to Colorado, Paul carved out his path to the NHL in the collegiate system with the University of Denver Pioneers.
Stastny quickly proved himself as one of the top scorers in college hockey, helping lead Denver to its second NCAA Championship in a row as a freshman in 2005. He would up his production, posting 53 points in 39 games as a sophomore, and capturing the WCHA scoring title before making his exit from the NHL.
The 44th pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Stastny came into the NHL for the 2006-07 season with little in terms of expectations. He wasn’t even expected to make the team out of camp, instead expected to start in the AHL.
Stastny, who began the season wearing #62 but was then given his father’s #26 by John-Michael Liles midway through, more than held his own throughout the season. At one point, he had a 20-game point streak, becoming the third-youngest to do so following Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Stastny would end with 78 points, finishing second in the Calder Trophy voting toPittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. Stastny did, however, earn a nod on the NHL All-Rookie Team.
Battling injuries during his second NHL season, Stastny put up a finer scoring rate than his rookie year (71 points in 66 games) while earning a selection to his first NHL All-Star game, though he did miss it due to injury.
After signing a five-year/$33M extension in 2008, things started to decline for the second-generation star. Injuries limited him to just 45 games the next season as well as career-lows in production due to a lack of time in the lineup.
Stastny would rebound for career-highs in assists (59) and points (79) in 2009-10, managing to stay healthy for the entire season but he’s been in decline the last two years in terms of not only points but points-per-game.
Entering his eighth season in Denver, there are questions abound regarding Stastny. Can he regain his high-scoring form now that the Avalanche have a pretty stacked offensive lineup? Will Stastny become trade bait with his deal set to expire after the 2013-14 season? What does the future hold for Stastny in an Avalanche uniform?
Despite his recent struggles, Paul Stastny has the quiet, unflashy catalyst of the Avalanche. As he has produce, the Avshave seen success. As he has faltered, so too have the Avalanche.
March 12 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny (26) watches for the puck drop during the second period of the game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Still just 27-years-old, Stastny has plenty of time ahead of him and has already done so much. If he stays with the team, he has a chance to rocket up this list. If he doesn’t, he’ll go down as one of the top scoring Avalanche ever.
Stastny currently sits eight in assists with 263 and tenth in points with 398 with a good chance to join his uncle Anton and his dad Peter in the top seven in points in franchise history.
For those reasons, and perhaps many more to come, Paul Stastny is one of the greatest Avalanche of all-time.
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