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Age Is Catching Up to the Winnipeg Jets Paul Stastny: What to Expect?

The Winnipeg Jets traded to return Paul Stastny. They didn’t give up much, but what did they get in Stastny? Is age catching up to him?

In a move that made total (dollars and) sense from a Vegas Golden Knights perspective, early in October, the Winnipeg Jets re-acquired Paul Stastny from the Golden Knights. Truly, the Jets game up very little in exchange – only 25-year-old Swedish depth-defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

Related: Trade Debate: Would You Swap Patrik Laine for Matthew Tkachuk?

In the end, it wasn’t Stastny’s lack of production that made him trade worthy. Instead, it was a Golden Knights move to clear needed salary-cap space after the team signed the highly-coveted right-shot defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Something had to go to pay Pietrangelo the big money he signed for.

Stastny’s Return Trip to Winnipeg

For the Jets, it’s Stastny’s return trip to a city he played before. Stastny played 19 games (scoring 13 points) at the end of the 2017-18 season with the Jets after he came from the St. Louis Blues. He was part of the Jets’ deep playoff run, where the team won two playoff series and lost to these same Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals.

Paul Stastny Jets
Paul Stastny, Back with the Jets

With Stastny comes his $6.5 million salary-cap hit on the final season of his contract. Last season was far from his best, and during 2019-20’s shortened season he only scored 17 goals and 38 points in 71 games. Still, as noted, the Golden Knights didn’t get much of a return for Stastny, but really that wasn’t the point. The point was to gain salary-cap and the trade did just that.

What Will Stastny’s Impact Be this Season for the Jets?

Now that Stastny’s with the Jets, the question is: “How much of an impact can Stastny have in his time on the Jets’ roster?” In fact, that’s the question that Kyle Bukauskas and Sean Reynolds debated in the video below.

Will Stastny’s Age and the Season’s Schedule Catch Up to Him?

Now that he’s 35-years-old, how many points can Stastny actually score for the Jets? As Bukauskas noted, the Sportsnet’s odds-makers are predicting 40 points in 56 games. Reynolds believes the potential exists because Stastny has the right partners in Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine (assuming the rumors that he’s leaving aren’t accurate). In fact, if he plays as well this season as he did with Ehlers and Laine during his last go-round with Winnipeg, he’ll match and beat his production during that season. He would score just over 40 points.

Paul Stastny and Patrik Laine Jets

But three things make that a difficult possibility. First, Stastny didn’t have a solid season in 2019-20 – dropping from 42 points in 50 games during 2018-19 to the 38 points in 71 game total last season. Second, Stastny’s 35th birthday is two days after Christmas; and, he’ll be 35 when the 2021 season begins. Third, this season’s going to be an absolute grind. It’s likely to be both shortened and condensed, with injuries (and even COVID-19 – let’s hope not) surely creeping up on the players – especially older ones.

The Bottom Line: Stastny Is Getting Older

Age is creeping up for Stastny. Although he has the scoring skills and is playing with the right people, it might be difficult for the soon-to-be 35-year-old NHL player to regain the form he had a couple of years ago. In short, can he stand up to the grind that this season is likely to bring?

Paul Stastny Winnipeg Jets
Paul Stastny’s Return to Winnipeg

Regardless of what Bukauskas says about the Sportsnet’s odds-makers’ predictions, smart money would probably bet against Stastny scoring 40 points for the Jets this season.

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