Jets acquire Paul Stastny from Blues

When captain Blake Wheeler was told the Winnipeg Jets were trying to add veteran centre Paul Stastny, he picked up the phone on Sunday and called his old teammate.

St. Louis picks up 2 conditional picks, forward Erik Foley

The Jets on Monday acquired forward Paul Stastny from St. Louis. The son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny had 12 goals and 40 points in 63 games for the Blues this season. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

When captain Blake Wheeler was told the Winnipeg Jets were trying to add veteran centre Paul Stastny, he picked up the phone on Sunday and called his old teammate.

The pair had played together in Germany during the NHL's 2012-13 lockout season, have the same agent and crossed paths in their teens while playing for U.S. squads and attending camps.

"I was really excited," Wheeler said Monday after the Jets acquired Stastny in a trade with St. Louis.

"I've known him for a while, just the type of guy he is, the type of player he is. Obviously his name wasn't even out there so I was surprised to hear it, but my fingers were crossed."

Stastny, 32, was traded to Winnipeg in exchange for forward Erik Foley, a first-round draft pick in the 2018 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Winnipeg later acquired defenceman Joe Morrow from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2018 draft.

Stastny, a 12-year veteran in the last year of a four-year contract, waived his no-trade clause. The Blues are retaining half his salary, which averages $7 million per year.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said he got a text from St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong a few days ago telling him he might make Stastny available. Cheveldayoff had tried to get Stastny in free agency in 2014.

He let Wheeler know when it was a pending deal because he's the captain and knows Stastny.

"When I found out that Paul was available, I put everything into that basket...," Cheveldayoff said. "If we didn't make it, we were very happy with our group moving forward here."

What the Jets get with Stastny is a veteran with a top-notch hockey pedigree. His father, Peter, played 977 NHL games. The younger Stastny has racked up 805 career games with St. Louis and Colorado. In 63 games for the Blues this season, he has 12 goals and 40 points.

Experience matters

Stastny also brings the experience of 55 playoff games — now the most of any player on the Jets' roster. Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien is next with 43 and won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010.

Experience means a lot, Byfuglien said.

"You've gone through a little bit of it and you can kind of just say something that can help the guys go along," he said.

Stastny joins centres Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Matt Hendricks and injured Adam Lowry. Andrew Copp has been filling in for Lowry on a third line flanked by Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. That could be where the newcomer is plugged in.

"I think [Stastny's] a player that fits our game and how we try to play," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "[He] can cover off a lot of areas — faceoffs, penalty killing, power play, play against the other teams' best by role for an awful lot of years."

Ehlers and Laine viewed the trade as a boost.

"It looks like we're now really wanting to win the Stanley Cup and now we have a really good chance to do it," Laine said. "That just gives us a better chance to even get there. We were happy with this team we had, but now we're even happier."

Stastny will likely have to choose a new jersey number. Wheeler wears the same No. 26 Stastny wore with the Blues.

"I offered it," Wheeler said with a smile. "Be a lot of pressure. No, I'm just kidding. Yeah, I threw that in there as a joke, but if he wants it he can have it."

Winnipeg (37-16-9) is second in the Central Division behind its Tuesday opponents, the Nashville Predators.


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