Peter Stastny certainly made headlines last season when he claimed that the Colorado Avalanche organization had damaged itself beyond repair and ruined its future by trading Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second-round pick to St. Louis for Jay McClement, Erik Johnson and a first-round pick.
His son, Paul Stastny, was quick to say for the record that he does not think that the trade was damaging to the team, but there were still a lot of questions about the logic behind such a deal. The Avalanche will be out to prove that their future is bright and promising. Here are five players who are the primary reasons why.
Stefan Elliott is a prospect who has extremely high potential and could play as soon as next season if the Avalanche need any help because of injuries or other roster shakeups.
Last year, Elliot put up 31 goals and 50 assists in 71 games for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. He plays in all situations and will definitely be a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL some day. He passes very well and plays good positional defense almost all the time. He may take a little maturing before he is able to intimidate attacking opponents, but he will be a big part of the Avalanche's future as an elite puck-moving defenseman.
Matt Duchene was the No. 3 pick in the 2009 draft and has delivered exactly what was promised with two solid NHL seasons.
He followed up 24 goals and 31 assists in his rookie year (2009-10) with 27 goals and 40 assists last season. Duchene is an emerging star whose numbers are climbing and should benefit from another year of experience. Expect him to score 35 goals and get about 40 assists for a total just shy of 80 points.
Duchene has the potential to improve to the point where he will be getting 45-50 assists per season in addition to 30 goals, and could easily become a perennial All-Star in the NHL. He is definitely a key part of Colorado's success moving forward.
I know that some may argue that David Jones is not exactly young (he turned 27 yesterday), but I still think that he showed incredible potential last season.
Jones really kind of came out of nowhere after a pretty good college career with Dartmouth, followed by a few struggling years with the Avalanche. Then suddenly, he netted 27 goals last season, which was the same amount as Duchene.
Jones has emerged as a presence on offense. His size (6'2", 220 lb.) makes him hard to knock off the puck. David Jones seems to work very hard and seems to be very effective on the forecheck, which makes him a valuable player to have in the Western Conference.
Who better to prove Peter Stastny wrong than Erik Johnson himself?
The former No. 1 pick (2006) may have needed a change of scenery in order to play up to his potential, which has not been reached yet. That is not to say that Johnson has not played well, but he has seemed out of his comfort zone at times in St. Louis and was counted on to be one of the franchise cornerstones.
Colorado may give him a chance to come into a better atmosphere and go back to enjoying the game of hockey. Johnson should realistically be capable of contributing at least 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in his prime and will continue to improve on defense. The trade of Shattenkirk and Stewart will unfortunately still rest on his shoulders because he is just a lot more visible than Jay McClement will be.
Could it be possible that Peter Stastny forgot about his own son when he said that Colorado would be set back two or three years because of the trade?
Paul Stastny is the quarterback, the consistent player whose vision of the ice surface is impeccable.
He had 22 goals and 35 assists last season, and has been a 70-point scorer for three seasons in the NHL already. I get the feeling that any playoff success that the Avalanche had could be in large part due to the success of a smart, responsible two-way player like Paul Stastny. He has the best chance to prove that the organization is not going downhill and that they are not caught in between the rebuilding phase and playing for eighth place, which is probably what his father was ultimately trying to say.