As the summer approaches, Leaf Nation will begin speculating on how Brian Burke can get that coveted first-line centre they need. He can do three things: stand pat, sign Richards or trade.
I think that if he goes the trade route, that Paul Stastny has to be in his sights.
The biggest reason why Paul Stastny could become available via trade, is simple: money. Paul makes $6.6 million a year and for the most part had a rather under-performing 2010-11 season. To put his season in perspective—the whole line of Grabovski, Kulimen and MacArthur individually had as many or more points than Paul and made a cumulative $6.4 million.
Clearly this was an anomaly to Paul Stastny's career.
He has great bloodlines, and has the skill set and drive to bounce back. However, to add a little paprika to the mix, he was clearly upset regarding the February trade of Stewart & Shattenkirk to the St.Louis Blues. Sure, it was his father Peter who vented to the media, but Peter was most likely reacting to his son's disappointment. His play after the trade didn't show any marked improvement either, going 12 points in 18 games (.66 PPG) compared to 45 in 56 (.80 PPG) prior to the trade. Maybe a change of scenery would be good for him?
Lastly, and I hate to say this because people react negatively, the Avalanche are not going to be big spenders for the next little while. If anyone cared to notice, they have floated barely above the salary floor for the last couple of years. According to Forbes the Avalanche have been in a steady decline in value since 2005. Purchased in 2000 for $202 million they are now valued at $198 million. Revenue steams continue to be steady and the fan base is solid. The reason for the decline is primarily the economy and the arena financing which will both improve over time. To quote Forbes "Stanley Kroenke, owner of the Avalanche and the Nuggets of the NBA, is just barely meeting the debt payments on his Pepsi Center..."
Now on to the speculative. What would it take to get him?
People will immediately suggest that many other teams would be in the mix and be able to offer better packages. I disagree. Many other teams are also in the same "economy crunch" that Colorado is currently in. And the other teams that aren't, are either already in the upper cap limits or already have a first-line centre, and cannot justify a $6.6 million second-line centre on their team.
So a package could consist of:
Gustavsson - Would help the Avalanche's weak goaltending situation and would give Gustavsson another chance to become a No. 1 goalie with Reimer overtaking him in Toronto's depth chart.
Toronto's 25th or 27/30th selection this year - Would give Colorado three 1st round selections in this year's draft—in the early, middle & late segments. Not a bad draft scenario which could land them all the players in their team's draft rankings, considering this draft year is so wide open.
Bozak - Played for the University of Denver. Tyler knows and loves the area and would be a perfect third-line centre who can comfortably jump up to work second-line centre duties. Toronto playing him as a first-line centre was asking too much of him but in Colorado, Duchene would be the first-line guy, so no pressure.
What would you rather the Leafs do?
Mueller, D'Amigo or Frattin - Gives Colorado some prospect depth without seriously depleting Toronto's.
Alternately, we could package:
Gustavsson, Bozak, Gunnarson, a prospect, our 25th selection and our 39th selection.
John-Michael Liles, Paul Stastny and Colorado's 11th selection this year.
This would save Colorado about $6 million while adding to their team depth.
What do you think Leaf fans?