Not only does Paul Stastny have to deal with comparisons to his father, Peter Stastny, who happened to play for the same franchise when it was based in Quebec, the 23-year-old center is now going to be counted on to be the successor to future Hall of Fame center Joe Sakic in the Colorado lineup.
No pressure, of course.
Speaking of pressure, allow me to dump some more on the pile. When the Colorado Avalanche was experiencing its glory days in the mid/late 1990s, playing for Stanley Cups and brawling with the Detroit Red Wings every season, the team was anchored by one of the best 1-2 punches we've ever seen in Sakic and Peter Forsberg. With Stastny, and 2009 No. 3 overall pick Matt Duchene, the Avalanche have another potentially lethal tag-team duo down the middle. Of course, that's not to say I expect Stastny and Duchene to be the next Sakic-Forsberg (because I don't), but building down the middle with a pair of franchise-caliber centers is a pretty good place to start for a team that's clearly in an all-out rebuild mode. Hey, it worked for Pittsburgh.
Stastny has missed 53 games the past two seasons, while his numbers regressed somewhat this year, falling from the point-per-game he averaged in '07-08 to a still respectable .080 in '08-09.
The Avalanche locked him up long-term during the season, signing him to a contract extension that features a $6.6 million cap hit through the 2014 season.
Draft Year: 2005
Taken in the second round, 44th overall, in what's looking like a pretty strong class. Montreal selected Guillaume Latendresse one spot later, while the Blackhawks took Michael Blunden at No. 43.
Why He's On My List
I've always loved watching the game's great two-way centers: Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Ron Francis. Obviously, I feel safe in saying that Stastny will never reach such a legendary level, but he's already one of the better two-way centers in the league, possessing the ability to create offense (he's averaged nearly a point per game for three seasons, all before the age of 24) and take care of business in the defensive zone and kill penalties. This is the type of player you win with.
Obligatory YouTube Video
There aren't many Paul Stastny video's floating around YouTube (come on, Avs fans), and this is probably the best of the limited bunch. It features the obvious comparison to his dad, Peter, and is set to some fast-paced European techno dance club music. Crazy.