Welcome to “get to know your Avs”! This feature will take a look at current Avalanche players (and maybe some staff, too) to give you an idea as to just who these guys are and what they mean to the Avalanche.
Yes, some (or most) of you will already know these guys but don’t be party poopers; nobody likes party poopers.
Today, we look at a second-generation star. Someone who faces great scrutiny these days but remains popular with certain sections of the fan base. He’s everyone’s favorite trade rumor: Paul StastnyMar 23, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny (26) looks for the puck in front of Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Paul Stastny
Nicknames: Son of Stastny, Stats, Stazz, “Don’t call me Peter”
How He Came to Denver: 44th overall pick, 2005 NHL Draft
What he’s done: Stastny entered the NHL during the 2006/07 season, an under-the-radar rookie who wasn’t expected to even make the team out of camp, let alone make an impact. Instead, Stastny set an Avalanche rookie record for points with 78, passing Alex Tanguay’s 51 from 1999/00 (his dad holds the Quebec/Colorado franchise record with 106). He also set an NHL rookie record with his 20-game point streak, breaking Teemu Selanne’s record of 17. All of that and he still didn’t win the Calder Trophy, losing toPittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.
He picked up right where he left off in year two, bettering his points-per-game average despite missing 16 games to injury. He’d pick up his 100th career point and make his first NHL All-Star game.
Over the next few years, as the Avs decline, Stastny battled injury and inconsistency. Still, he had a nice rebound season in 2009/10. He hit a career-high in points (79), leading the team in points and assists, finishing sixth in the league in the latter category.
With the talent dwindling around him, he’s been performing under expectations the last few seasons. His supporters will point to his first few seasons as an indication of his talents; his detractors point the last few.
What he means to the team currently: Well, that kind of depends.
As of right now, he’s the team’s second center behind Matt Duchene and just ahead of Nathan MacKinnon. He’s a high quality playmaker and could see a bounce-back season with all of the talent the Avalanche possess in their top six.
What he could mean, though, is the Avs have a valuable trading piece to upgrade their defense. He’s already been the subject of many a trade rumor and will undoubtedly continue to be right up to the trade deadline this season. His contract expires after this season and his hefty cap hit ($6.6M) might keep the Avs from wanting to sign him long-term, even though they could likely get him for cheaper than that.
Either way, he’s going to be valuable. It’s just whether or not that’s on the ice or as a trade chip.Mar 14, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny (26) against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
What to expect: Stastny has been on a downward trajectory for a few seasons now but with the talent the Avalanche suddenly have at forward combined with a contract year, don’t be surprised if he has a bounce back year.
The question is whether or not he’ll get back to his near point-per-game average from the first four seasons. He’ll likely play with the returning Alex Tanguay and Steve Downie (or a returning Milan Hejduk?), plus he’ll see power play time in some capacity. If he plays around 75 games (not out of the question considering he only has two seasons of 80 games or more), look for him to rack up 70-75 points. He’s too talented a playmaker to keep going like this and the motivation of a shiny new contract works wonders on one’s level of play.
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