The St. Louis Blues traded Paul Stastny on Monday and that was unexpected. Winnipeg acquired the center for a 2018 first round pick, prospect Eric Foley, and a conditional 2020 pick. Admittedly, St. Louis was ninth in the Western Conference but sinking fast. The Blues saw this as a chance to trade an asset before they received nothing for him at all.
Winnipeg has enjoyed quite the season but needed center depth. Not only were they able to convince Stastny to waive his NTC, St. Louis is paying half his remaining salary. That is some trade.
What Paul Stastny Means To Winnipeg
St. Louis blinked which is Winnipeg’s benefit. Stastny provides depth scoring and shutdown center abilities to a team that has Adam Lowry. Lowry is a nice player but has little playoff experience. Both have excellent possession numbers, yet Stastny performed at that level playing almost three more minutes a night.
Stastny was winning face-offs at a nearly 56% clip. While St. Louis struggled to score, the center did have 15 points in his final 21 games. That is not bad. His previous four games may have left a bad taste in management’s mouth. Three shots and no points may have been the last straw. However, the Blues were in bad shape as a whole.
Even then, the center provides the ability to make plays and set players up even in the toughest of competition. Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko are no slouches. On the other hand, Winnipeg is loaded with forwards who can score. The Jets are averaging almost six tenths of a goal more a game than the Blues. Opportunities will come up with Stastny not having to be the top center.
He can play second line or even third line center at times with top unit penalty killing. Stastny may also get power play time but how much cannot be determined at this time. Again, what he brings is the ability to pass from the half-wall and slot at a proficient pace.
Projections And Outlook
With a Winnipeg top-six that boasts Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Nik Ehlers, Patrik Laine, and others, Stastny can fit in easily. The pressure of the salary does not matter and the center can focus on playing playoff hockey. Winnipeg could still finish first in the Central or even first in the West. They have an excellent nucleus plus Stastny thrives in quality of competition.
Furthermore, he will see improved goaltending and defense in front of him. For that alone, do not be surprised to see Stastny continue his previous quarter average of about 0.7 points per game. Even if he comes in a little lower, his defensive proficiency alone helps Winnipeg’s penalty kill. Unfortunately, they do take a lot of penalties (among the top five in the league annually). This Winnipeg trade helps the Jets compete with the Nashville’s and Vegas’s of the Western Conference.