The St. Louis Blues continue to have a very divisive player in Paul Stastny. The talent is there, but health and consistency continue to elude him.
When the St. Louis Blues signed Paul Stastny, they thought they were getting the top-line center they so desperately craved. Fans rejoiced at the thought of the “home town” guy returning to where his father played.
Unfortunately, the Blues had to spend big money to get him here. It has been an uphill battle for Stastny ever since.
First off, I’ll come right out and say that I get tired of contracts coming into the argument so often. You cannot ignore how much someone is getting paid. However, you should not judge a player solely on what any team chose to give that player.
As fans, we can sit around and say I’d play for this or that or peanuts and at the time that might be true. If someone offers you $7 million though, you are not going to turn it down because you don’t think you can live up to a $7 million contract.
Other factors have played into Stastny’s time in St. Louis as well. He has rarely been at full health for a full season. In fact, he has yet to play a full season for the Blues, with the closest being 74 games back in 2014-15.
He was only 29, when he first came to the Blues. You would figure that is young enough to not start breaking down physically.
Stastny has had the occasional injury plagued season, even in Colorado. However, he was still producing plenty of points and having more than the occasional full (or close to it) season.
Stastny’s problem is hard to pinpoint. Is he diminished or was it easier to score that many points because he was looked to as THE man in Colorado?
Is he trying too hard in what could be considered his home town? Does the contract enter even his mind, putting pressure on himself?
Stastny has always been a pass-first type of player. That said, he seems to want to defer almost too much. Only Jori Lehtera has a worse habit of passing in shooting type situations.
This was a guy that averaged 20 goals a season in his time in Colorado. He has yet to break that threshold in St. Louis.
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2016-17 was another mixed bag year for Stastny in the Lou. He set a career high in goals with the Blues, scoring 18, but the assist numbers went way down. Due to that, he actually had his lowest point total since arriving.
Stastny led all the Blues regular forwards in Corsi For rating at 51.5%. That means the team was controlling the puck more often than not when he was on the ice.
However, his faceoff percentage fell by seven percentage points from the regular season to the playoffs. Nobody was winning faceoffs for the Blues, but that’s just not good enough.
There just does not seem to be a winning scenario for Stastny at the moment. Short of returning to his Avalanche form, which seems unlikely at this point, he will never live up to the money the Blues spent on him.
Simply taking the eye test, Stastny came up big in larger situations than he has in previous seasons in St. Louis. The stats tell a different story though that is very hard to get past.
The sad part of Stastny’s story is that it might be better if it ends when his contract is over. He has one more season on his four year deal.
Unless there is a large turnaround in 2017-18, his time with the Blues will be viewed largely as a disappointment. Whether we like the person or not, the stats have just not been there regardless of what he’s getting paid.
Stastny still has talent. He just needs to be further down the lineup. If he cannot stay healthy, he is no longer a top-line center and even when healthy there might be better options if the Blues could swing the right deals.
Stastny did not have a bad year this past season, but it was another disappointing one. After having a pretty decent playoff season in 2016, he was another one of many Blues that you just shrug your shoulders over in 2017.
Perhaps the Blues will get a contract-year performance out of Stastny the way they did out of Patrik Berglund. We can only hope so, because the Blues have too many guys they hoped would be their top centers putting up second or third line stats.