Teammates excited as Jets acquire Stastny, Morrow in trades
Winnipeg makes serious moves just ahead of NHL trade deadline
The Winnipeg Jets have picked up a solid new centre and a new defenceman, and teammates couldn't be happier.
The Jets announced Monday they nabbed Paul Stastny from the struggling St. Louis Blues just before the NHL trade deadline. He comes in exchange for prospect Erik Foley, a 2018 first-round draft pick, and conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2020.
The Blues, fifth in the Western Conference, are currently on a six-game losing skid.
Jets captain Blake Wheeler, who has known Stastny since they were teens, says he's excited to see a player of Stastny's calibre added to the team.
"When I first caught wind of it, it was a possibility, and even just the possibility was really exciting," said Wheeler, who praised Stastny's versatility. "[He] can plug in a number of holes, awesome face-off guy, he's put up numbers his entire career."
Stastny has scored 12 goals and picked up 28 assists for the Blues this season. His career stats include 216 goals and 417 assists in 805 games with the Blues and the Colorado Avalanche.
Stastny is in the final year of a four-year, $28-million contract with the Blues, who will pay half of Stastny's salary.
"He's one of those players that can step in, play a big role for us and help us out in a lot of different situations," said Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. "We're just showing that we're willing to make the push and make the run for [the playoffs]."
Stastny told Blues TV the decision to leave St. Louis was an emotional one.
"There's a lot going on in my head for the last 20 hours," he said. "It's tough leaving these guys, some of the closest guys I've ever been with.
"But I'm excited to go," he said, adding he feels Winnipeg is a "quality team" that he can help become even better.
Stastny confirmed he waived the no-trade clause in his contract to facilitate the trade. "There's maybe only a few teams where maybe I would really take serious consideration [to being traded] and I had no idea one of those teams would be interested."
"I think a player that fits our game — how we try to play — that can cover off a lot of areas: face-offs, penalty killing, power play. He's played against the other teams' best … for an awful lot of years," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice.
"He's a lot like the other centremen that we have — really versatile, which is important to us because we move our wings a fair amount."
When asked where he saw Stastny fitting in, Maurice replied: "Yeah, he's going to play for the Winnipeg Jets," before saying no decisions have been made on which offensive line he will join.
Stastny joins centremen Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Matt Hendricks and Adam Lowry, who is injured. Stastny may end up on the third line between Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers as a replacement for Lowry.
It's possible Stastny will play in Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators, Maurice said. The Predators are two points ahead of the Jets in the Western Conference.
Wheeler pooh-poohed reports that Stastny had decided to come to Winnipeg partly because of his friendship with the Jets captain.
"I think the opportunity to contend was more attractive than anything I was going to say," Wheeler said. "As a friend, I was more than happy to answer any questions — tell him we were excited about the possibility — but I wasn't going to sway him one way or the other."
While the Jets were happy with the lineup before Monday, Maurice says the trade still made sense for the team.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff "explored every option, and this one fits specifically to what we need. So we're pretty excited about that — that we get a chance to get better," the coach said.
Joe Morrow joins blue line corps
Right after the 2 p.m. NHL trade dealine Monday, the Jets also announced they had made a deal for defenceman Joe Morrow of the Montreal Canadiens.
The Winnipeg Jets have acquired defenceman Joe Morrow from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. <br><br>As a result of today’s trades, defenceman Tucker Poolman and forward Nic Petan have been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose.—@WpgJetsPR
"Joe's a guy that can really skate," said Cheveldayoff. "The thing I think impressed us the most is he played five of six games last year for Boston in the playoffs and I believe he had over 20 minutes played in those games.
"Those are the types of things that are important, he's got some experience in those big games."
The team was happy with the trades they made, said Cheveldayoff: "You probably heard the word several times … it's all about fit.
"You're drafting for the right fit, you're signing for the right fit, you're trading for the right fit. There's so many different things that come into play."