NHL

Numbers Game: Blues bring in Stastny

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Scott Cullen
7/1/2014 3:18:53 PM
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The St. Louis Blues brought in the premier unrestricted free agent centre, and did it without breaking the bank.

Numbers Game looks at the Blues' signing of Paul Stastny.

The Blues Get: C Paul Stastny.

Stastny, 28, has been a strong two-way centre, capable of putting up points and, more recently, taking on tougher assignments while remaining productive. Since arriving in the league in 2006-2007, Stastny has 458 points in 538 games, which ranks 34th.

While his possession stats haven't been dominant, it needs to be considered that they have been accrued in Colorado, where they've been strong in relative terms, and he's among a select group of forwards to face quality opposition and start more of his shifts in the defensive zone, yet still have strong relative possession stats.

Joining St. Louis is a terrific situation for Stastny too. The Blues had a contending team last season that could have used an offensive boost and Stastny ought to provide that and with last year's top line -- Alex Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie -- capable of handling a lot of heavy lifting (tough matchups, defensive zone starts), Stastny should be freed up for more of an offensive role than the all-around responsibility he had with Colorado.

Also working in Stastny's favour is that by moving to a team with much better puck possession stats, there will be more opportunity for Stastny to play in the offensive zone and if he ends up with rising young wingers Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko (or fellow U.S. Olympian T.J. Oshie), it would be easy enough to forecast that line being very productive. There's also some shuffling to do among Blues forwards, as they have signed C Jori Lehtera and that could mean Patrik Berglund and David Backes shifting to wings, leaving Vladimir Sobotka and Maxim Lapierre in the third and fourth-line spots.

The team that Stastny is leaving, the Colorado Avalanche, will have their hands full trying to match their 2013-2014 regular season success, but the team does at least have options down the middle, with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon more than suitable on the top two lines, and they have Ryan O'Reilly (who shifted to wing last season) available if needed. Losing Stastny means tougher minutes for those guys, but the Avalanche at least have the personnel to withstand a loss at centre.

The ideal part of this deal for St. Louis is that they didn't have to get into an outrageous deal in order to acquire the player who was clearly the best free agent centre on the market. Stastny wanted to go to St. Louis and was willing to take a shorter term than he might have made elsewhere. Signed for four years and $28-million, Stastny gets a raise on what he was making in Colorado, joins the team with which his father, Peter, finished his career and it's not an unreasonable price for what Paul Stastny provides.

If Stastny can thrive in an offensive role, he'll give the Blues a legitimate chance to get into the discussion with the best teams in the Western Conference and that's all that can be asked from a contending team when they dip into the free agent pool.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Paul Stastny (Photo: Michael Martin/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Michael Martin/Getty Images)
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