by Marc Ciampa
-photo by Jonathan Kozub
As the Oilers return from the Olympic break tonight against the St. Louis Blues, a new face will be lining up between Georges Laraque and Todd Harvey.
Yan Stastny will be making his National Hockey League debut against a team his father, Hockey Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, played for and the city in which he grew up.
"Knowing they were playing St. Louis, the team I grew up watching, it's a little extra special," he remarked.
At the time of recall, Stastny was playing his best hockey of the season in the American Hockey League. In his last 12 games, he led all Iowa Stars with six goals and seven assists for 13 points as well as a stellar +7 rating. Related: Oilers recall Yan Stastny from Iowa
His current hot stretch came after an eight-game drought where he failed to pick up a point.
"I've gone through some slumps here and there. It's definitely been an eye-opener," Stastny said of his first AHL season.
Stastny was acquired by the Oilers from Boston this past summer in exchange for the Bruins 4th round draft choice in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The pick was previously acquired by Edmonton for Brad Isbister several weeks earlier.
We were basically looking for a team which wanted me. The Oilers looked like the right fit. They have a younger organization. They are more of a skating team. It's a great city. My dad really loves that city. It's the right fit for me," Stastny said at the time of the trade.
There was a lot of anticipation near the start of training camp after a breakout 2004-05 campaign during which Stastny finished tied for fourth place in the German League scoring race with 54 points, scoring 24 goals and 30 assists in 51 games.
However, training camp didn't quite go as planned. After a very impressive showing in rookie camp, a wrist injury limited his playing time in the preseason to three games with limited ice-time. Stastny shrugged off the unfortunate turn of events that likely delayed his NHL debut.
"It's the way things are, you can't really worry about it," he said. "You just have to make a good case for the people upstairs."
Yan has an offensive flair to his game but doesn't mind mucking it up in the corners and playing a physical game as well. He should bring a high-energy component to the Oilers lineup.
"If it's blocking shots, making a hit or scoring goals you have to do whatever you can to stay up there. Go around bang some bodies, have some fun."
His father Peter will certainly be watching tonight in anticipation.
"I talked to him yesterday after I got the callup and he was pretty excited. He's going to be sitting at home glued to the TV.