WINNIPEG, MB - The Winnipeg Jets got a veteran centre with playoff experience just a couple of hours before the NHL reached its 2018 Trade Deadline.
Paul Stastny, a 32-year-old, 12-year NHL veteran who has played the last four seasons with the St. Louis Blues was acquired from the Blues on Deadline Day, in exchange for a first-round draft pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, forward Erik Foley and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Stastny has played 63 games for the Blues this season and has 12 goals and 40 points. The son of former NHL superstar Peter Stastny was born in Quebec and played at the University of Denver before joining the Colorado Avalanche in 2006. He was selected by the Avalanche in the second round (44th overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft.
He has played 805 career NHL games for St. Louis and Colorado and has 216 goals and 633 points. He's also played in 55 career playoff games, scoring 14 goals and 35 points. This playoff experience will be good for a Jets team that doesn't have a lot of it.
Stastny was selected to the 2007 NHL All-Rookie Team when he had 28 goals and 78 points as a 21-year-old. He played in the 2008 and 2011 NHL All-Star Games. Internationally, Stastny represented the USA at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics and 2007, 2012 and 2013 World Championships.
Stastny, a close friend of Jets captain Blake Wheeler, spoke with Wheeler on Sunday night, although Wheeler claimed today that he had nothing to do with Stastny waiving his no-trade clause to join the Jets. Wheeler and Stastny have the same agent and Wheeler said he was "thrilled" to have his friend join the hockey club.
"I talked to him briefly last night and as a friend, I was happy to answer any questions he might have about joining the hockey club," said Wheeler. "But I wasn't going to try to sway him one way or the other. I just told him I was a sounding board if he needed anything.
"We've been all-in all year. Even some of our comments at training camp. This team has been ready to take a big step all year. As players you want to play for organizations that when the time is right, it cares about winning. You want to be given that opportunity. Nothing is set in stone. The opportunity to contend was more attractive than anything else. It wasn't going to ruin my season if it (the trade) didn't happen. We love our group. We were confident and comfortable going forward."
Many Jets fans have long waited for the team to make a deal to bolster their team's chances come playoff time. After all, this franchise has never won a playoff game. Stastny will likely start as Winnipeg's No. 3 centre but he could end up as the No. 2 centre depending on what he has left in the tank. Regardless, a trio down the middle that includes Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little and Stastny is pretty high end. Stastny is an outstanding faceoff player who plays well defensively and can score.
In fact, everything Stastny brings to the Jets is a pretty solid combination of leadership, experience and skill, especially at this time of year.
Scott Taylor, Manitoba Post
Photo by James Carey Lauder