The post-Olympic break part of the season hit a major stopping point today as the NHL trade deadline hit at 3 pm ET. The Colorado Avalanche were in an interesting place, serious contenders in the Western Conference, but unwilling to compromise their future in order to buy a rental player for this season.
Another key part of their deadline rumors was the contract status of their pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Paul Stastny. It was widely rumored that Stastny would be either resigned to stay with the Avalanche by the time the deadline was reached, or he would be in another team’s sweater.
Stastny would have brought a very nice pieces, or maybe even some pieces to the Avs in return in a trade, but the decision made by the front office at this time was that Stastny is too important to the Avalanche for right now to move him.
This is a major risk that is being taken by the management team for Colorado, as it is a very real possibility that Stastny could leave for another team in the summer who offers him more money in a contract.
One team that has long been enamored with Stastny has been the Toronto Maple Leafs. This would be an obvious landing spot for Stastny for a couple reasons.
Toronto has not had a clear-cut top center for some time now. They have several talented wingers, such as Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk, but they don’t necessarily have top tier talent to play between them. If Stastny would join Toronto and center a line with Kessel and Van Riemsdyk, it would mean a top line of 3 American Olympians playing in arguably the highest pressure situation in the NHL in Toronto.
Another draw to Toronto for Stastny could be that he could be reunited with a former college teammate from the University of Denver in Tyler Bozak. Bozak has been a center for Toronto for several years now, and their friendship has been very public in the past.
One potential reason that the Avs could have decided to hold on to Stastny is for his leadership capabilities with the current roster. He is one of the longest tenured players on the Avalanche roster, if not the longest (only rivaled by Cody McLeod).
Stastny has looked very solid on a line between Gabe Landeskog and rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon since the return from the Olympics. This chemistry that has developed could also be a reason for risking losing Stastny for nothing at the end of this season.
Only time will tell if the Avs made the right move in standing pat at this deadline, but one thing is for sure: the front office of this club is very upfront about what it is doing. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy made it known publicly that they like their current roster of guys and weren’t just going to make a trade to say they did it.
This has now become a recurring theme with this management team, as it was the same way before the 2013 NHL draft in which they had the 1st overall pick. They publicly said they would take a forward, then announced which forward. Many people thought they might be doing that to stir up trade interest in the pick, and if they got stuck with the pick they would still go ahead and draft Seth Jones. However, they stuck to their word and took their guy in Nathan MacKinnon.
Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic are being as open as they can be with their fans and with everyone else. They have a plan, and they are sticking to it.
The next step for Roy and Sakic will be to ensure that they can in fact resign Stastny, so that they do not let him walk away at the end of this season for nothing in return. The management showed Stastny that they were willing to stand by him and do not think that he will burn them after this season by leaving. Whether or not Stastny winds up signing an extension soon or in the offseason will determine if the Avs come out of this deadline as winners or losers. If Stastny resigns, the Avs won this deadline. If he winds up somewhere else and the Avs get nothing in return, this will be a sore spot for the management for years to come.