Paul Stastny was traded to the Winnipeg Jets by the St. Louis Blues on Monday for a conditional first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and forward prospect Erik Foley.
Stastny, a 32-year-old center, has 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) in 63 games this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and waived a full no-trade clause to join Winnipeg.
"I think it's tough leaving these guys, some of the closest guys I've ever been with, but I'm excited to go somewhere, when I look on paper and when I play against them, how quality of a team they have," Stastny said. "I think I can help them get even better and maybe be that piece for a long, extended run. To play more hockey for me is a big factor and it's maybe a decision made a little easier."
Video: NHL Tonight talks impact of Stastny trade to Jets
Stastny has 633 points (216 goals, 417 assists) in 805 games with the Blues and Colorado Avalanche. He was selected by Colorado in the second round (No. 44) of the 2005 NHL Draft and signed a four-year contract with St. Louis on July 1, 2014.
Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler played with Stastny in Germany in 2012-13 and said he was excited to see a friend join the Jets.
"I think what he brings to our team is something that is going to be really helpful for us," Wheeler said. "He can plug a number of holes, awesome face-off guy. He's put up numbers his entire career. Outstanding guy in the room. Really great addition to our room."
Stastny said of Wheeler, "He's a guy that I've been close with. We have a couple mutual friends, so I've known him for a while. I've been playing against him and looking at their roster top to bottom, that's a quality team that has a great chance to go far. Nothing's guaranteed. I know that, but if I can help in any way, that's what I'm going to do."
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The Jets (37-16-9) enter their home game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-TN, NHL.TV) two points behind the Predators for first place in the Central Division.
"It looks like we're now really wanting to win the Stanley Cup and now we have a pretty big chance to do it," Winnipeg forward Patrik Laine said. "I think that gives us a better chance to get there. ... [Stastny is] good in the [offensive] zone. Overall a really good player. He can play defense, he's good at face-offs, he's going to be a really good centerman on this team."
The Blues (34-25-4) have lost six games in a row and trail the Calgary Flames by one point for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said Stastny will play on the power play and penalty kill but wouldn't say who his linemates will be; he could debut with Winnipeg on Tuesday.
"Very pleased to get a veteran center iceman, they're just so hard to come by," Maurice said. "I think [he's] a player that fits our game and how we try to play, that can cover off a lot of areas, face-offs, penalty-killing, power play, play against the other teams' best by role for an awful lot of years.
"Real nice vision and creativity, so we get a guy that we can move around with different people. He's a lot like the other centremen that we have, really versatile, which is important to us because we move our wingers a fair amount. We've switched the lines up and we have almost a chemistry in doing that now, so we're pretty excited about it here."
Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has seen plenty of Stastny since the Jets moved to the Central Division in 2013-14 and said the veteran adds a little bit of everything to the lineup.
"An older guy who has been around," Byfuglien said. "He's been on a few teams and he knows how to be good in the (face-off) circle, that's one of his main strengths. He's an all-around good guy for the room, and on the ice and off the ice, he's good."
Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff explained how the trade came together.
"Without divulging too much, I got a text from [Blues general manager] Doug [Armstrong] in St. Louis a couple of days ago, he said depending on how some of the outcomes might be going in that direction for them, he may look at doing something like this," Cheveldayoff said. "I immediately responded that I'd be very interested if it ever got to that point and things progressed from there."
Armstrong said he made the decision to complete the trade after a 4-0 loss to the Jets on Friday and a 4-0 loss at the Predators on Sunday.
"Two or three weeks ago, I didn't envision this being an option today," Armstrong said. "We were in the top portion of our conference and our division, and the last couple of weeks we haven't played to a level that kept us there. I started to look at what was best for us moving forward. I talked to Paul on Thursday and said, 'I hope that we play well on Friday and Sunday and this isn't an issue, but if we don't turn it around, I have to do my job also,' and he was a pro about it and he understood.
"We didn't have the results we needed on Friday and Sunday, so an opportunity came to gain two valuable assets in a first-round pick and a young prospect, and we decided to go that direction."
NHL.com correspondent Louie Korac contributed to this report.