While free agency opens in just over a week from now, there is the possibility of Brian Burke getting his shopping done early by trading for a proven number one centre instead of gambling and probably overpaying on Brad Richards in the open market. Although there are not a ton of centers available nor is Statsny a bargain at $6.6 million cap hit, Colorado Avalanche pivot Paul Stastny is an interesting alternative to Richards considering his age (25) and pedigree. Like Richards, he’s a left handed playmaker (he nearly hit 60 assists in 2009-10) who on paper would complement Kessel perfectly.
The Avalanche have never let it be known that they are willing to move Stastny, but it would make some sense for them with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly fully capable of anchoring the top two lines. In addition, Stastny carries a hefty price tag that the Leafs would gladly take on if it meant solving their number one center void. However, with a $48 million cap floor on tap for next season, and with the Avalance committing only $32 million to 14 players for 2011-12 as of now, you have to wonder if the necessary pressure points exist for Burke to get Statsny at a reasonable price.
Howard Berger mentioned on his blog, Berger Bytes, that the cost of Stastny would include Nazem Kadri, Carl Gunnarsson and a first round pick. While a deal would not have to include all three parts, it seems certain that one of the Leafs two first rounders would be swapped, along with a top prospect, but not necessarily Kadri.
Does Stastny appeal to you, and if so, what would the Leafs need to fork over to acquire him? Does he have the skillet to be a legitimate number one centre in Toronto? To start off the links, here are some trepidations to consider about Statsny from Avs beat writer Adrian Dater.
Anthony Petrielli at Leafs Nation Online outlines the Leafs’ game plan heading into this weekend’s draft.
Another story from LNO, this time from Ron Guillet.
Howard Berger thinks Stastny would be a perfect fit on the Leafs.
Jon S. at Puckin’ Eh profiles a handful of prospects who could be selected by the Leafs with the 25th pick.
Cam Charron at The Leafs Nation has an interesting take on prospects born in the first few months of the year compared to players with late birthdays.
Alex Tran continues his 2011 Draft Profile series with a writeup on a potential Leaf pick in Oakville native Stuart Percy.
VLM is in favor of changing the Rocket Richard Trophy to be named after Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe.
Should the Leafs target Paul Stastny or set their sights on Brad Richards during free agency?