I was wrong about Paul Stastny. Back on February 6th, I questioned the production of the guy. It’s October and here I am. Pouring a drink and typing away to salvage a Monday.
Money is a bastard when it comes to clarity. A big contract can get in the way of understanding a player’s true worth. The dollar signs are unable to dim the glare of the stat sheet and fans get anxious.
When hometown kid Paul Stastny signed with the Blues before the 2014-15 season and collected only 46 points in 74 games, it was a disappointment to many. If you take a second glance and see where he was and who he was playing with, the total began to make more sense.
For most of the season, Stastny was playing on the third line and with lesser linemates. He was shifted up and down the roster, like a drill bit being tried out on a few different drills to see what it took to get the job done. One could say Stastny was a victim of the “STL line” craze. Instead of playing with star player Vladimir Tarasenko, Stastny was with the kids.
In 2015-16, Stastny put up 49 points in 64 games. An improvement over the previous season but somehow falling below the expectations of many fans. Then the postseason happened and everybody realized what the guy could do with a good line. A competent one.
With Troy Brouwer and Robby Fabbri as his wingmen, Stastny broke out with 13 points in 20 games. He was all over the place. Winning face-offs, creating plays, wrecking havoc on goaltenders with jedi stick trick and mind games, and putting up points at the right time. It was like he had two brains out there. People stopped complaining.
As my fellow STLGT refugee Donut King can attest(and correct me on when needed), solid linemates can make a player’s value seem completely different. They can change the entire outlook.
My opinion officially changed on March 11th against the Anaheim Ducks. Stastny tipped a goal in from a ridiculous angle and it helped the Blues win an important game. It was the kind of goal that made you stop and wonder if he was human. It was the first goal for Stastny since February 6th and set him off on a run that would include 14 points in 12 March games. The postseason was next and he sprinkled awesome all over that cake.
2016-17 has shown the same flavor of player. Stastny is all over the place. He’s got six points in three games and is leading the team in face-off percentage won. He’s playing on a line with Robby Fabbri and Alex Steen, the ace of hearts and king of jacks of this Blues team. You couldn’t pair #26 with better players that are perfect for his skill set, and yes I include #91 in that discussion.
He’s here for this year and next, making seven million each season of his four year deal. After finding his true game near the end of his second year and enjoying some health for a change, Paul Stastny is playing his best hockey in years.
Some might say 46-55 point average isn’t good enough for a seven million per year player and they aren’t dead wrong. Stastny knows he has to keep earning it every single game. A big contract comes with big expectations. Sometimes, though, a player’s true worth comes off the stat page. Away from the G & A columns.
Stastny has helped the Blues transition and makes linemates like Steen and Fabbri better. The young kid owes a lot to Stastny for helping him carve his own spot on this roster. After hooking up with the center, Fabbri has taken off. The Stastny effect is real.
There was a time when I wanted more out of the guy. That time is gone. Paul Stastny has proven his worth slowly but surely.
If you aren’t enjoying Paul Stastny right now, I don’t think you will ever be able to.