33-Year-Old Center – Calgary Flames
Matt Stajan Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $12.5 million extension with the Flames in January of 2014.
Stajan was a healthy scratch for Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Vancouver.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Stajan had a decent season in 2013-14, piling up 33 points in 63 games, but taking a minus-13 in the process. He figures to be one of the top two centers in 2014-15, but youngster Sean Monahan will push him for one of those spots. Stajan once had a 55-point season with the Maple Leafs, but hasn't been able to put together anything similar since and will likely be in the 30-to-40 point range come season's end.
After struggling in the previous two seasons with Calgary, Stajan began to turn things around in 2012-13, with 23 points in 43 games. He also was a plus--7, one of the precious few Flames with a positive plus/minus rating. He should get a shot at the center spot on the second line and could be a decent producer if paired with someone like Sven Baertschi. That being said, Stajan hasn't topped 50 points since 2009-10 and does not score enough to warrant much fantasy consideration except in the deepest of leagues, especially if he drops to the third line.
Stajan was much-maligned by the media and fans for much of 2011-12, as he struggled to put a solid streak of games together. However, near the end of the season he seemed to finally find his form, scoring eight points in eight games at one point and giving the Flames a lift in their final push for a playoff spot. He will likely end up in the third or fourth center spot for Calgary, but has an outside chance to nab the No. 2 center slot if he really impresses in camp. Depending on which spot he wins and his self-confidence, he could have anywhere from 20 to 40 points.
Stajan was a fantasy let down last season, as he only scored six goals while seeing his average ice time sink toward the 14-minute range. The 27-year-old remains a solid playmaker, but he'll have more competition at the center position this season from younger, faster prospects. This could cause his ice time to decrease even further unless he recaptures his 20-goal potential.
Though Stajan is coming off of his best statistical season, potting a career-high 57 points, his productivity declined (16 points in 27 games) after the trade from Toronto to Calgary midseason. In fairness, the Flames scored less than any other team in the NHL, so some of Stajan's decline has to do with falling down to the team's level. What's worrisome though is that he had just two power-play points after the trade to the Flames. That the team re-signed Olli Jokinen, presumably to center Jarome Iginla's line, is also troubling.
Donít get us wrong Ė we like Stajan. But 50-point centermen donít cut it in most formats given the depth at that position. Stajan performed well last season and could easily match that same output. Or he could fall off the wagon a bit and find himself in the low 40s again. We think heís a roll of the dice and thereís too great a risk for snake eyes here.
It's time for this young man to step up. And we're not really convinced it's going to happen. He's a nice boy, the kind you bring home to mama. But unless the stars align, he grows some ugly and starts playing with more intensity, he's going to be forever destined to be a mediator-type with smarts. That might make for a good negotiator and frankly, a decent captain some day. But it's not enough to suggest he'll ever deliver for fantasy owners.
Stajan is developing into a fine two-way forward but he still gets pushed off the puck a little too easily and doesn't keep his intensity up throughout every game. And while he enjoyed a 44 percent increase in output last season, we don't see him repeating that kind of jump this year. He potted just two goals in the last 40 games of last season after finding twine eight times in the first half. And the forward depth in the center of the hockey universe means zero power-play time. He's a younger version of Mike Peca; he just needs to add some intensity to get to that level.
Stajan appears to be a solid defensive center, recording his second straight positive plus-minus rating (+5), but he merely duplicated his 27-point effort from his rookie season despite playing in 11 more games in '05-'06. Stajan figures to have neither the skill nor the opportunities to improve much on those point totals.
The lockout year was good to Stajan, whose quiet performance in St. John's went mostly under the radar. His poise and maturity have increased ten-fold, and his laser-like passes improved even more. He needs to add muscle to his 180lb frame and he needs to catch a break under Pat Quinn's veteran-first approach. Given playing time, he could score 40 with a top around 60 someday. He's worth a spot on keeper rosters and in deep leagues.