31-Year-Old Center – St. Louis Blues
Paul Stastny Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Blues in July 2014.
Stastny returned from a foot injury Saturday, ultimately lighting the lamp en route to a 4-3 series win over the Wild in overtime.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Stastny is no longer the guy who delivered three, 70-plus point seasons in his first four years in the league. He has evolved into a sturdy, two-way center who sacrifices scoring for team success. Stastny's 200-foot focus means he's taking a lot of draws and working heavy shifts, and that's a recipe for exhaustion rather than offense. Still, he'll skate on the Blues' top line where he'll be the defensive conscience for sniping star, Vladimir Tarasenko. A top-line gig with a star linemate means Stastny is all but guaranteed a 45-point season. But really, how many 45-point, playmaking centers does your fantasy team need? Talk him up at the draft and get someone else to bite.
The Blues made a splash by signing Stastny to a big contract as a free agent last summer, but he got off to a very slow start in his new home, battling injury while registering just eight points in the season's first two months. However, he bounced back to finish the season with respectable 46 points in 74 games, including 15 with the man advantage. Stastny played most of the season as the third pivot for the Blues, but he teamed with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz for a couple of weeks while Jori Lehtera was injured, and the results were strong. As a result, coach Ken Hitchcock said during the offseason that he'd like to move Stastny up the depth chart. A four-time 60-point man, he could see a jump back to his high-flying offensive days if he can find consistent time alongside Tarasenko again, but the more likely outcome if he stays healthy is approximately 50 points.
After a disappointing finish to a dazzling regular season, the Blues wasted no time in upgrading their club for a possible Cup run in 2014-15, signing Stastny to a four-year, $28-million contract on the first day of free agency. Coming off a 60-point season with the Avalanche -- the fourth of his eight-year career -- Stastny joins a Blues squad similarly flush with talent on the wings, a situation that should again provide a bounty of scoring opportunities. In fact, itís not out of the realm of possibility that the hometown boy improves upon last yearís point total, as his arrival frees up captain David Backes to expend most of his energy defensively against the oppositionís top snipers, while Stastny preys on lesser second-line competition. Furthermore, with ascendant wingers Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko likely to flank him on either side most nights, Stastny stands to see a probable upgrade from last seasonís plus-9 rating, conferring him an advantage over other forwards with similar points per game projections.
Stastny will center the team's second line alongside newly acquired Alex Tanguay and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Stastny finished third in team scoring (24 points) last season and recorded the second-highest time on ice for a forward. Stastny is always around the puck looking to set up his teammates, but also can find the back of the net -- he scored 20 goals in five of his first six seasons. The Avs have a more-balanced offense this season and that means less pressure on his line. Look for a return to a 60-point season once again.
Following a breakout season in 2009-10 in which he came just shy of the 80-point mark (79 points in 81 games), Stastny seems to have settled into roughly a 55-point-per-year groove, having recorded 57 and 53 points the past two seasons, respectively. This is surely a disappointment for the Colorado organization, who are paying him like an elite scorer Ė $6 million a season with two years left on his contract. However, Stastny, who started the year in his usual spot centering the Avsí second line, finished last season playing a checking-line role. With the emergence of younger guys like Matt Duchene and Ryan OíReilly, it will surely be difficult for Stastny to work his way back as one of the Avsí top two centers. Expect yet another 50+ point season from him this year, with upside to 65-70 if the bounces go his way.
Stastny took a major step back last season scoring-wise, recording just 57 points (22G, 35A) in 74 games after posting a career-high 79 (20, 59) in 81 games the previous season. Normally when a player experiences a drop-off such as this, it's often indicative of some sort of nagging injury that prevents him from playing to his potential, but at this point, this does not appear to be the case with Stastny. All fantasy leaguers can really do is shrug and chalk it up to one of those seasons where the bounces just didn't go his way. Including his career-best 2009-10 season, Stastny has two other years of almost point-per-game production (2006-07 and 2007-08), so we'd be surprised if he didn't revert back to his usual high-scoring self this season. He will likely drop down a few slots in most fantasy draft lists this season, so be ready to grab him on the cheap.
Following an injury-shortened 2008-09 season that limited him to just 45 games, Stastny missed just one regular season game last year, allowing him to notch 79 points in 81 games. This, along with contributions from teammates Craig Anderson, Matt Duchene and Chris Stewart, helped the Avs get back into the playoffs last season after finishing dead last in the Western Conference just the year before. This point-per-game level of production is what fantasy owners expect out of Stastny each year, and anything short of that is a disappointment, given his level of skill. Stastny, who is signed through 2013-14, will be expected to get the Avs back into the playoffs this year and advance past the first round. At the very least, with a strong core of young, up-and-coming players surrounding him, Stastny has the supporting cast to take a run at his first-ever 100 point season. Draft him with 80 points in mind, with plenty of room for upside.
Stastny enters this season as the Avs' undisputed number one center, and probable successor to the captaincy following Joe Sakic's retirement. At first glance, Stastny appears somewhat of an injury risk, as he has spent a combined 53 games on the shelf over the past two seasons. Upon closer inspection, however, most of the injuries he suffered were more like freak one-time occurrences (e.g., broken foot, broken forearm, appendectomy), as opposed to chronic conditions that are likely to repeat. When healthy, Stastny is about as dependable as they come, with 185 points in 193 games so far in his young three-year career. More of a playmaker than a pure goal-scorer, he will once again rely on his wingers to find the back of the net. However, he should have no problem maintaining a point-per-game pace this season, provided he can stay out of the trainers' room.
Stastny is slowly emerging as an elite player and the soon-to-be new leader of the Avalanche franchise. Once Sakic finally does retire, you can bet Stastny will be there to begin shouldering the load. Points-wise, Stastny's 71 points last season fell short of the 78 he posted in his rookie year, but he also missed 16 games to injury, so on a points-per-game basis, he did take a step forward. We expect this to continue, with Stastny winding up around the 80-point plateau this season. Stastny is an aggressive player on the ice, with good size, speed and a nose for the net. However, he's more of a playmaker than a scorer and will rely on his wingers to find the back of the net once he gets them the puck. The only question is, will Granato re-install Stastny as the team's No. 1 center, given the strides he made last season while Sakic was on the shelf? Or does Sakic return to his previous role as top pivot? Either way, there's not much to worry about with Stastny - he should produce as expected whether he centers the first or second line.
Stastny, who developed into a very good playmaker during his rookie season, will be the Avs' second-line center and see some time on the power play.
Stastny has a reputation as a strong two-way player who could be in the NHL very soon. He piled up 98 points in two college seasons with the University of Denver, and is someone to consider in keeper leagues.
Stastny, the son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, did not disappoint as a freshman by helping lead Denver to a national championship. He's expected to play another year of college hockey.