(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Las Vegas–With the 2018 NHL Free Agent Frenzy period officially more than 24 hours old, we take a look at the Paul Stastny signing with the Vegas Golden Knights.
When the Golden Knights were heading into the 2018 NHL Free Agent market, they knew that there would be the possibility of losing some key personnel from their inaugural roster that helped the franchise win the Pacific Division Crown, captured the Western Conference Championship, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Well over the past 24 plus hours that actually happened to the Golden Knights as David Perron went back the St. Louis Blues for a third tour duty.
In doing so, he signed back with the team that originally drafted him during the 2007 NHL Draft in the first round at 26th overall. With that said, Perron signed a 4-year contract with St. Louis at $4 million per season.
In his remarks from yesterday’s press conference with members of the media, General Manager George McPhee touched on what exactly happened at the end with Perron. “It came down to term on that one.” Said McPhee.
Sometimes this happens in sports where the player wants more and the team unfortunately is unable to accommodate the request.
With Perron back with the Blues, the Golden Knights earlier today lost another player to free agency in forward James Neal. Neal inked a 5-year deal with the Calgary Flames at a contract total of $28.75 million.
As Perron and Neal are no longer with the organization this makes the Stastny signing huge for the Golden Knights because in the previous campaign both #18 and #57 combined produced 41 goals, 69 assists and 110 points.
Last season with both the Blues and Jets, Stastny scored 16 goals, recorded 37 assists for 53 points and was +1. This alone absorbs the loss of basically Perron due to similar numbers in offensive production.
In addition, Stastny won 54.9% of his draws last year collectively between St. Louis and Winnipeg which goes to show you how important adding him into the fold for Vegas is going forward. His possession rate among forwards around the NHL at 71% was impressive as he finished inside the top 10 last season.
After the signing, McPhee mentioned in yesterday’s presser that he had targeted the Stastny for quite sometime and he also praised his abilities as skillful playmaker.
“We had our eye on him for quite awhile.” McPhee said on Stastny.
“He’s really talented, skilled guy and he’s a playmaker. You always want playmakers. It’s hard for goal scorers to score if they don’t have playmakers and he does that.” McPhee added.
In this league finding playmakers that can help out is one of the challenges any GM faces in either building or retooling a roster.
But that’s not all a center can do for a club looking to makes plays out there on the ice. It’s also about beating out the other guy in front of you in the face off department.
The put things into perspective, last season with the Golden Knights Cody Eakin led Vegas in the dots with a 52.1% success rate, followed by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare at 51.2%, Erik Haula finished in third with 50.5%, and anchoring the centers was William Karlsson winning 48% face offs. These were the designated centers for each line they were assigned to last year.
Both Haula and Bellemare are not traditional centers in fact they have played on the left wing for the most part of the their respected NHL careers so by adding Stastny whose standard position at center is indeed a smart pickup by McPhee.
At 32-years of age Stastny still can be called up by Head Coach Gerard Gallant to put together a 50 to 60 point season. He has accomplished this task 7 times over the course of his career.
2018-19 Projected Line Combinations For Vegas
Top line: Marchessault-Karlsson*-Smith
2nd line: Haula-Stastny-Tatar
3rd line: Carr-Eakin-Tuch
4th line: Nosek*-Bellemare-Reaves
*Denotes RFA player
The addition of Stastny to the Golden Knights top 6 forward group makes that a true first and second line combination as this was something the Washington Capitals exposed in the Stanley Cup Final series.
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