He isn't Sidney Crosby, but he may be the next best thing for Jarome Iginla, which is why Darryl Sutter has inked Matt Stajan to a four-year contract extension worth $3.5 million per year.
For a 26-year-old who can pass the puck and boarders around the 20 goal mark perennially, it seems like a good deal for the Flames. Especially when you consider in the final two years of the contract Stajan will earn $2.5 million, which isn't a bad cap hit for a player with his ability.
Prior to the Olympic break, the crafty center was finding his groove in Calgary, scoring three points in three games, and he currently sits second in team scoring with 18 goals and 27 assists.
While he has yet to show he is capable of handling number one center duties in his career, Stajan at times shows he has the skill set to go against the top defensive lines on a nightly basis, he just needs to do it more often.
For those naysayers that say he isn't good enough to play on the first line alongside Iginla, consider that before Matt Stajan, Iggy scored 50 goals playing with Daymond Langkow in 2007-08 and again in 2001-02 with Craig Conroy. Nothing against those two, but Stajan is far more skilled and has better vision when it comes to making a play.
That being said, the chemistry between Stajan and Iginla will take time, but if they can get it clicking sooner rather than later Calgary will be very dangerous come playoff time as they are deeper up front than they have been in years.
Which is something that Darryl Sutter is counting on.
There is no taking away the fact that he is a talent, it is the reason Stajan made a deep Leafs roster in 2003 at the age of 20. Along with his offensive upside, he brings leadership, maturity and versatility to a Flames team that desperately needed a jolt of just that when they acquired him.
This team may not win the Stanley Cup this year, but they are closer now than they were five months ago when the season started.
With the long-term extension given to Stajan, Sutter has added another piece to keep the team competitive for the next four seasons as well.
Which is all you can ask from your general manager.
Now it may be up to the 26-year-old center to prove his worth, which is something he is more than capable of doing, and it doesn't hurt he will have one of the premier players in the league on his wing in the meantime.
Matt Stajan is just one more soldier on a team that looks poised to contend for hockey's ultimate prize in the near future. Which is something that Flames fans should be excited about.
I know I am.
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