When I first heard about the acquisition of Paul Stastny by the St. Louis Blues, one thing came to my mind. How do they pull it off? Did Blues GM Doug Armstrong enlist St. Louis native Jon Hamm to dress up as Don Draper and make the killer pitch to Stastny’s group? How did this deal go down? Blues couldn’t be more excited about the 29 year old center coming to town to play for the Blues. There are reasons this deal blindsided local fans.
For the last few seasons, Doug Armstrong and the Blues haven’t been big free agent spenders. When the clock struck 11 a.m. today here in St. Louis, no one knew what the Blues were going to do. Did a trade for Ottawa’s Jason Spezza make more sense of the hometown team or was there a chance the team could grab hometown kid Paul Stastny? On Monday, Stastny trimmed his list down of potential suitors and the Blues were on that short stack of teams. Today’s free agency kicked off and didn’t take long before big deals started happening. Spezza went to the Stars in a huge 6 player deal. Ryan Miller found a new place to tend goal in Vancouver. James Neal found a new home. Before the clock struck high noon in the Midwest, the Blues signed Stastny to a 4 year deal worth 28 million.
Upon his signing, Stastny said that he had to go with his gut and he didn’t regret coming to St. Louis, the place where his Hall of Fame father Peter retired his career for. Stastny took less money and years to come to St. Louis. Armstrong didn’t need Hamm, Draper, or any additional leverage than a solid deal and a Blues jersey to lure Stastny in. Once he made the decision to not return to Colorado, Stastny more than likely looked at the Arch City hockey team and decided to come home.
Stastny broke into the league in 2006-07, scoring 28 goals and 78 points. He added 79 in 2007-08 and has averaged right around 70 points per season for his entire career. With the exception of the lockout season in 2012-13, Stastny has played less than 66 games only once and is a durable player, which was a warning sign on the potential Spezza trade.
Stastny tallied 10 points and 5 goals in the playoffs this past spring and will only get better when placed in this system of Blues that already enlists a strong balanced presence. Stastny isn’t going to be crowned the savior of the Blues simply because he is the hometown kid, makes the most money on the team and has the reputation of a two way player who can elevate a team. He is being brought here to secure the final piece of the puzzle for a team so close to being a legit Stanley Cup contender. The last two playoff exits looked like a goaltender mismatch at first glance but when one looked closer, the Blues simply couldn’t score enough to advance. Stastny will fill that void and only make the players around him better as well. The Blues big find at center last offseason was Derek Roy. This summer, Armstrong is leaving nothing to chance.
One must tip their cap to Armstrong. He has quietly improved this team and took some risks. He brought over Jay Bouwmeester to fortify the defense and bring that big presence back to blue line. He made the blockbuster trade for Miller and while it didn’t pay off, one must respect the gamble the GM took in taking that shot for his team. Now, Armstrong lands Stastny and one can only hope the Blues team turns this surprise into a celebration come next summer.
What exactly does the kid bring to the Blues? A legit center who can work on the top line or anchor the second line. Put Stastny anywhere and he is going to thrive and pump points into the other players around him. I am sorry Vladimir Sobotka fans but the Blues now have someone to truly inhabit that role and Sobe can go back to being the key utility player that Ken Hitchcock needs.
It would be quite the fit to slip Stastny in between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko on the second line and let them wreak havoc on opposing clubs. Stastny could also work on the top line and slide David Backes over to wing and move Alex Steen or T.J. Oshie to the second line. Hitch has options and Armie has given them to him with a goal in mind. Win the cup. For the St. Louis Blues and their fans, that is the message every single season.
With Paul Stastny on board, that dream seems a little closer.