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.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?— Avalanche press release
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.