Wild

Adding Paul Stastny Could Maximize the Wild's Potential 

Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild won’t be acquiring any big names, such as Claude Giroux, at the trade deadline. Bill Guerin doesn’t want to sacrifice the future by trading premium assets for a rental center. That makes even more sense, considering Minnesota’s recent collapse.

However, their recent struggles haven’t kept them out of the rumor mill. The Wild had interest in Ben Chiarot but wisely balked at the price. There are plenty of depth options if they want to bolster their lineup and only surrender modest assets. Specifically, Minnesota could look at adding a depth center or defensemen for insurance.

The Wild are expected to make at least one more trade before Monday’s NHL trade deadline. They’ve already dealt Nico Sturm to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a young, cost-controlled center in Tyson Jost.

There is an expectation that the Wild will trade collegiate star Jack McBain’s rights before the trade deadline. The 22-year-old center made it clear that he doesn’t intend to sign with Minnesota. And if he’s going to test the free-agent market, they might as well trade him to get an asset. It’s hard to blame him, considering that the Wild are projected to have Ryan Hartman, Joel Eriksson Ek, and top prospect Marco Rossi down the middle next season. Several teams are interested, but the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, and Winnipeg Jets are the three likeliest landing spots.

Winnipeg seems like a perfect trade partner in this situation. While Minnesota is looking for a second-round pick in return — something the Jets don’t have in 2022 or 2023 — they could decide to acquire a center in return instead. And they have veteran center Paul Stastny, who would be a perfect addition as the Wild’s No. 2 center between Kevin Fiala and rookie Matt Boldy.

While Stastny might not re-sign with the Jets this summer, would they be willing to move him? Maybe a couple of weeks ago, but Winnipeg is only three points away from the second wild-card spot in the West. It’s difficult to believe they would be willing to move him at this point, but could the Wild entice them by adding in another player like Freddy Gaudreau?

There are other centers the Wild could pursue. However, Stastny could be a sneaky-good addition who wouldn’t cost too much compared to the haul the Philadelphia Flyers will get for Giroux. Stastny is the perfect target because of his versatility. He can play both center and wing.

Stastny, 36, is scoring at a 50-point pace with the Jets this season. He’s been good in the faceoff circle as a secondary faceoff man for Mark Scheifele, winning nearly 59 percent of his draws this season. Stastny’s offensive underlying numbers have been strong this season, and he’s sporting a 51 percent expected goals rate in all situations. His 1.77 points-per-60 at 5-on-5 is respectable, too. Stastny is above league average in play-driving metrics, and his defensive metrics are good enough that it doesn’t drag his value down.

He hasn’t spent substantial time on the power play, but all signs have him as a positive contributor. And he has been on the penalty kill in Winnipeg, too.

Stastny might not be a blockbuster trade deadline addition, but there’s no doubt he would offer a lot to the Wild. His ability to win faceoffs and strong offensive numbers would elevate the roster, and he would be a massive upgrade over Gaudreau. 

Not only is there the appeal as a veteran, but Stastny has already shown in the past that he can have success on a new team. The Jets acquired Stastny from the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline in 2017-18. He scored 15 points in 17 playoff games and was an integral piece on their roster.

The only concern that comes with Stastny is that he doesn’t excel in many areas. Microdata from Corey Sznajder’s All Three Zones project provides insight on how he’s well below league-average in everything from general offense to passing to zone entries. That’s a valid concern, especially when the Wild will want offensive production from him. But they would probably be okay since Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov are elite across the board in these areas, especially entering the zone with controlled possession.

With that said, there’s no doubt he would be an intriguing upgrade over Gaudreau, even if he’s not one of the prime deadline targets. It would make Minnesota’s second line more dangerous and increase their odds down the stretch and in the postseason. If the Wild can add Stastny at the trade deadline, they should roll the dice and consider it.

All Data Via Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference

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