The official free agency period kicked off this past Sunday, and 2017-2018 GM of the Year George McPhee wasted no time. Enter former Winnipeg Jet Paul Stastny. The gifted 32-year-old center reached a deal with the Knights to become the first big signing of the VGK’s offseason.
Stastny’s contract is worth $6.5 million per year and includes a modified no-trade clause for all three years of the deal. The clause requires Stastny to submit a 10-team no trade list prior to each season.
After a magical season in 2017-18, and, with David Perron going back to St. Louis, and James Neal taking off to Calgary, Vegas is going to lose 100 points of production on their second line, plus veteran leadership qualities they brought to the team. After losing out on the John Tavares sweepstakes, Vegas had to make a little bit of noise, and preferably at the center position, where they were deficient during the Stanley Cup Final.
Who is Paul Stastny and how is he going to help the Knights?
Stastny broke into the league in 2006-2007 season with a bang, scoring 28 goals with 78 total points for the Colorado Avalanche. A runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy, Stastny established himself early on in the league as a two-way center. His offensive playmaking abilities were apparent in Colorado putting up 20 or more goals in 6 of his 8 seasons in the mile high city.
After he represented Team USA at the Winter Olympics in 2014, Stastny took his skills to St. Louis where the center’s role changed. Unlike in Colorado, where he was top-three in scoring almost every season, he did not have to be “the guy” in St. Louis. Stastny averaged around 18-19 minutes a game, playing 2nd-3rd line minutes for the Blues, which is more than likely similar to what his role will be with the Golden Knights.
Stastny was traded to Winnipeg at the trade deadline in 2018, putting up impressive numbers in his short time there. In the playoffs alone, Stastny put up 15 points, including six goals with the Jets. He faced off against the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals, getting credit for an assist in Game One. The center put up 16 goals, 53 points overall last season, in an 82-game campaign.
Where will he fit in with the Golden Knights?
It is easy to see Stastny filling a slot as the team’s No. 2 center. Stastny is an established veteran who — no offense to Erik Haula — is an upgrade at the center position. He is a veteran who can immediately gel into the “Golden Misfit” mentality the players already have. Heck, he was one of the last players in the NHL player to use a wooden stick and his Twitter handle is @PaulyWalnuts26. Yes, Hulk Hogan is featured on his page banner.
— Paul Stastny (@PaulyWalnuts26) October 31, 2015
Many criticized Stastny during his time in St. Louis for his average performance compared to his pay. Some may say $6 million for a 32-year-old center is a lot of money, but with the cap space luxury the Knights have, the short three-year deal to get an established NHL player makes sense for Vegas to make this investment.
It remains to be seen if there will be more big splashes from McPhee this offseason. Will they trade for Erik Karlsson? Is Bobby Ryan coming over too? All of that is still up in the air at this point. However, signing Stastny gives Vegas some center depth that got exposed during the Stanley Cup Final. Both Haula and William Karlsson put up pedestrian performances in the Final against the Capitals.
However this plays out, Stastny will provide the Golden Knights with hockey pedigree, playoff experience, leadership and solid playmaking skills to help make those around him better. That’s one somewhat of a big move by George McPhee, what else does he have left?