Friday, October 9, 2020

Paul Stastny Swatch Card

So. Many. Questions.

Despite today marking the beginning of free agency between NHL seasons, the biggest move of the day was not a signing but a trade, one that ahd the Vegas Golden Knights sending Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets for Swedish defenceman Carl Dahlstrom and a fourth-round pick in 2022. Dahlstrom is a 25-year-old who has spent the past five years in North America, first splitting time between the NHL and AHL in the Chicago Blackhawks organization and spending all of 2019-20 with the Jets, totalling 64 NHL appearances in the process; Stastny is a 35-year-old who pretty much just had his worst statistical year ever but still delivers top-six possession numbers worthy of his $6.5M cap hit (and definitely his $5.5M actual salary), which is expiring after next season.

The Jets know Stastny, he was their second-line centre prior to signing with Vegas when they made a serious run at the Stanley Cup after the trade deadline in the 2017-18 season. He was slotted with Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, who are still around - for now, as there were many rumours of Laine being shopped around for... a second-line centre of Stastny's caliber - and it's a safe assumption that's where he'd be headed next season as well, although his experience in Vegas last year switching lines every other game will come in handy should he get shuffled around the lineup again this season. It is good to note that he drove play anywhere between 56% (with Alex Tuch and Cody Glass), 60% (with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith) and 62% (on his regular line with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty), so there is little risk in having him play anywhere despite his 2019-20 offensive output looking disappointing at first glance.

So it's clear I see this as as win for the Jets.

But I do not like the deal for the Golden Knights, the team I had been rooting for since the expansion draft. I agree with Brian Burke when he says moves like this, coupled with the abrupt firing of Coach Of The Year Gerard Gallant to replace him with a person he dislikes, to the way they treated Marc-André Fleury - the face of the franchise since it started - when acquiring Robin Lehner (pretending he would be the backup then just handing him the net instead of letting Fleury lose it himself), to the additional trades that will be required to make room under the cap for a possible Alex Pietrangelo signing when they already have a Norris-level player in his exact place in Shea Theodore, it really does feel like the human factor seems negligible there and they're very excited with their "shiny new toys" until they see another one and just jump on it and totally discard the old one that is doing just fine in its exact spot. Unless they win a Cup in the next year or two, the lack of loyalty, stability and security will become a huge factor in failing to attract free agents to Sin City. That, or if anyone of Pacioretty, Stone, Marchessault or Smith get the same treatment as Stastny, Theodore and Fleury.

There's a world of difference between how the Knights are handling their business and how the 2010 Blackhawks had to let go seven players on expensive contracts kicking in or even how the Tampa Bay Lightning will likely have to remove one current middle-six forward before next season so they can re-sign two of their RFAs; Vegas is acting like a teenager playing NHL21 on their XBox, with complete disregard to what actually consititutes a team.

In simpler times, Stastny played for the Colorado Avalanche, the franchise for whom his Hall Of Fame father Peter Stastny and uncles Marian and Anton starred before it moved to Denver - back then known as the Québec Nordiques - and he looked pretty good in the dark blue of their alternate uniform:
That's card #32 from Panini's 2011-12 Titanium set and Game-Worn Gear sub-set, featuring a matching game-worn swatch.

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