Thursday, March 08, 2007

Stastny Jr. takes NHL by storm

With an assist on Milan Hejduk’s goal at 9:58 of the first period tonight in Buffalo, Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny extended his point streak to 17 games, tying the NHL rookie record set by Teemu Selanne in 1992-93 ... Stastny will attempt to set a new league record this Sunday when the Avalanche travels to Minnesota to take on the Wild.
— Avalanche press release
Call me crazy, but doesn't it seem like there's a growing case for Paul Stastny as the NHL's rookie of the year?

For the first four months or so this season, it appeared as if Evgeni Malkin would be the runaway Calder Trophy winner as part of the ridiculous youth movement in Pittsburgh, but Stastny has steadily chipped away at Malkin's point totals and now sits just four points back. More importantly, Stastny has played far more time on the penalty kill (2:24 compared to 0:34) and far less with the man advantage (3:26 to 5:54).

He's also sort of come out of nowhere, as aside from the recognition his last name brings, few knew of or had high hopes for the 20 year old coming out of his sophomore season at the University of Denver. Not expected to make the team out of training camp, he has instead become one of Colorado's best players.

Despite his pedigree, Stastny was a fairly late draft pick (2nd round, 44th overall in 2005) after his rookie season in the NCAA, a surprise given he posted 42 points in 40 games as a just-turned 19 year old with the Pioneers. Prior to playing college hockey, he was a first-team all-star in the Tier 1 junior league known as the USHL with the Iowa-based River City Lancers (now called the Omaha Lancers). Paul and his older brother Yan, currently in the St. Louis Blues organization, were raised in St. Louis after father Peter played the tail end of his career there in the early 1990s.

It's too bad Paul Stastny's rise to fame happened in what looks like a lost season for the Avalanche, or else my guess is we'd be hearing a lot more about his play. As it stands, we can honestly say we've finally got our first legitimate race for the Calder this season.

At the moment, he's got my vote.

Granted, some of that's due to the fact Malkin has slipped from his torrid pace, posting no points in his last five games and no goals in his last eight. Malkin has just two goals and six points in 11 games since a four-point night against Toronto on Feb. 10.
photo by bling

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At 8:34 AM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Black Dog said...

The Avs always draft well, don't they.

BTW Mirtle I caught your video over at CinO - that's pretty weird.

At 10:08 AM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

The Avs always draft well, don't they.

Indeed. The amount of first-round talent they've found in later rounds is outstanding. To name a few:
- Drury (3rd round/72nd overall)
- Hejduk (4/87)
- Svatos (7/227)
- Stastny (2/44)
- Lilies (5/159)
- Budaj (2/63)
- Vrbata (7/212)
- Aebischer (6/161)

OK, maybe Abby isn't 1st round talent. But getting anything out of the 161st pick is impressive.

At 10:47 AM, March 08, 2007, Anonymous Chris DeGroat said...

The Blues have taken a beating locally from fans for drafting Scott Jackson when Stastny was still on the board.

At 11:12 AM, March 08, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Stastny played for the University of Denver. The University of Colorado does not have varsity hockey at any of its schools. DU is a private university located in the city of Denver.

At 11:39 AM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

- Lilies (5/159)

Hee hee.

At 11:43 AM, March 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think its also worth mentioning he is one of the few people left in the NHL still using a wood stick. I think he also uses his dad's old pattern too.

At 11:53 AM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

- Lilies (5/159)

Oops. I bet he hates that.

At 1:14 PM, March 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some irony here... Selanne broke his father's record for points in one season by a rookie.

Revenge for the Stastny clan? ;)

At 1:50 PM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Julian said...

I'd left the Avs for dead a while ago, but they're only six points out. Their season may not be over yet...

Julian K

At 3:04 PM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Tex Texerson said...

Sort of off-topic, but is it really that the Avs (or any other team with this label) draft well, or do they put their prospects in positions to succeed and have staff who excel at prospect development?

I seem to recall everyone going ga-ga over Jarmo Kekalainen for his drafts in Ottawa, but how have St. Louis fared with him at the helm? Only Lee Stempniak has had any sort of impact.

At 7:40 PM, March 08, 2007, Blogger Shane Giroux said...

Paul would get my vote right now for the Calder as well. Mostly because I get to watch more Avalanche games than Penguin games I suppose.

I don't get to see what Malkin does aside from highlights of goals but I see what Stastny brings in addition to points. He's mature beyond his years.


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