In the season marred with disappointment, no Colorado Avalanche player has been more disappointing than Paul Stastny.
Considered a franchise building block since his 78 point rookie season in 2006-2007, the 25 year old center has looked more like a $6.6 million paperweight with only 54 points in 70 games this season.
In previous seasons where Stastny played at least 65 games, his career low is 71 points.
Rumors swirled around the trade deadline of a potential swap of Stastny and LA Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, but a trade never came to fruition.
As the Avalanche cruise towards a bottom three finish and Paul Stastny likely continues his ice cold play, could he be capping off his final season in Denver?
Over the past two years, Colorado Avalanche General Manager Greg Sherman has been proactive in removing the stain of the Francois Giguere era (2006-2009).
Forward Ryan Smyth and defenseman Scott Hannan—Giguere's two biggest free agent signings at a cumulative 10.75 million annually—have both been shipped out for younger, more economic players (defenseman Kyle Quincey and forward Tomas Fleischmann, respectively).
Defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen, draft picks of Giguere in 2007, were deemed expendable due to a pair of draft picks made by Sherman in 2009: defensemen Stefan Elliott and Tyson Barrie.
Even Chris Stewart, the Avalanche's first round pick in 2006 and leading goal scorer from a season ago, was traded.
Paul Stastny, while not a draft pick of Giguere (Stastny was selected in 2005), is currently making an albatross $6.6 million per season, thanks to the actions of Giguere. Even in a good season the contract is a lot to take in, as it pays Stastny more annually than bona fide NHL stars like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and the Sedin twins.
Because the Avalanche have a great young center in Matt Duchene (and to a lesser extent, Ryan O'Reilly), Sherman may feel that the club can part with the center Stastny and still have a good foundation at the position.
The possibility also exists that the Avalanche will be staring down a center—like Sean Couturier or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—when the club uses its very high first round selection (projected to be second or third overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in June.
While the Avalanche would never expect an 18 year old to fill the many roles Stastny has provided, drafting a player who they feel may be able to step in and contribute (like Duchene in 2009-2010) may be incentive enough to deal Stastny for a young defenseman or goaltender.
Paul Stastny has been a very good player in five years for the Avalanche. He's scored a lot of points for the club (318 in 344 games), and has played in a lot of situations that the coach wouldn't trust a lesser player to play in.
But as the Avalanche move into a new era, it's out with the old and in with the new.
Stastny isn't old by any stretch of the imagination, but he's still very much a part of the Avalanche of yesteryear.
While he's a great young player who could be named captain in the off-season, he could be traded just as quickly.