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Stastny Brings Creativity To Vegas Top Nine

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights /

They say winning solves all problems. As the Vegas Golden Knights have recently discovered, it can create some too.

Everybody in Vegas had a productive season and the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. In today's NHL, production means value and provides free agents with choices.

Which in turn forces GMs to make hard decisions.

George McPhee couldn't give his own players everything they wanted and upgrade his roster. Adding a player like center Paul Stastny doesn't happen everyday. So when McPhee upgraded his top nine forwards with the veteran center, some term and money came out of the GM's quiver.

For David Perron, and perhaps James Neal, that meant a bigger payday elsewhere. Perron has signed with the St. Louis Blues and Neal continues to mull over a variety of offers from other teams while still negotiating with Vegas.

"We had our eye on Stastny for quite a while. He's a really talented, skilled guy," said McPhee. "He's a playmaker and you always want playmakers. It's hard for goal scorers to score if they don't have playmakers. He does that. He's a real good person, good solid pro. We do like having centers. You can move centers around the lineup, you can have centers on the wing, you can't get wingers to play center. I guess you can do it but they're not going to be… so it's nice to have centers."

Stastny has collected 646 points in 824 career NHL games. He's a bonafide top six center who can distribute the puck.

"We had a pretty good year with our group obviously. There's no changes on the blueline really, we made one but I think we have added a player that makes it better and certainly doesn't make it worse. The goaltending is excellent still. We wanted to add a skilled playmaker. David Perron is going to move on," said McPhee before hinting he might not be done tinkering. "We're sitting there trying to decide. Again, we kept our young assets, all of our draft picks, and we're trying to decide: do we make another move now or not? Is the right move there or not? I'll have to decide that in the next few weeks."

Stastny was traded by the St. Louis Blues to the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline and was a member of the Jets club which lost to Vegas in the Western Conference Final.

"I think a lot of things I was attracted to. Not just playing against Vegas in playoffs but playing against them in the regular season," said Stastny. "I think they play such a high paced game, aggressive, and an everyone-involved game not just one line, it's all four lines. When you teach that philosophy you create a lot of chances, you create a lot of turnovers which gets you the puck. I like playing teams that are aggressive and play on their toes and teams that aren't afraid to make mistakes, and that was big. Just looking at the kind of players that they have, a lot of speed, a lot of goal-scorers, and that to me I feel I fit well with that. I'm one of those guys that help the defenseman get the puck out of the zone and find it in my hands as quick as possible. When you play with players like that, that want the puck in their hands as quick as you can and then you come in late to support them."

Stastny is the son of Quebec Nordiques legend Peter Stastny. He sees the ice well and knows how to make the players around him better.

"The playoffs, it was really physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It took me a couple of weeks to take a step back and then all of a sudden it was a 'Now let's focus on the future and see what's best for me,'" he said. "You can't really pick where you want to go. There are always ideas of maybe where you can potentially end up, but you always want to go places where you want to be and go places that want you. It has to be a happy medium. After that playoff season, it was never in the back of my mind because hockey is just so draining, and it wasn't really till like a week or so after the final game and took a step back and be with my family."

McPhee was also able to retain bruising winger Ryan Reaves.

"Ryan is rare in that he's one of those big, physical guys that can play. You can put him anywhere on the ice," said McPhee. "Anytime we need him against any other line, you don't get exposed. It's very nice to have that combination of a player - they're hard to find. It's an old expression, but he keeps the flies out of the honey. It's nice to have him around. When we first started with our club, I didn't feel that we needed that because we didn't have stars to protect. As the season got going and progressed, we had some players that turned out to be real good players and some teams were playing us a little harder and a little chippier and thought they were going to get something. We didn't want them getting too overzealous with our players."

Reaves is excited to be reunited with his old Blues teammate Stastny.

"I'm really excited. He was a big part of the team in St. Louis. We became good friends over the years, so, to have a guy like that come into our team, he's a guy that slows the game down really well, he sees the ice," said Reaves. "He can run a power play all kinds of ways. I think, the way he slows the game down, it opens ice up for his linemates. He's going to do really well with whoever he plays with."

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