Monday, February 26, 2018

Blues trade Stastny to Jets for prospect, conditional picks

Blues receive forward Erik Foley, 2018 conditional 
first-round pick, conditional 2020 fourth-round pick

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Blues jumped into the deadline trade foray by trading center Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in 2018, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 and forward Erik Foley from the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blues (34-25-4), who are in a tailspin losing six straight games but are still one point out of the wildcard in the Western Conference; they will retain 50 percent of Stastny's remaining salary, which amounts to roughly $800,000 according to
Paul Stastny

The conditions of the trade for the Blues is as follows: the Blues get the fourth-round pick only if Foley, who is playing at Providence College, doesn't sign a contract with the Blues by Aug. 16, 2019. There is lottery protection on the first-round pick in the event Winnipeg misses the playoffs, which will not happen. If the Jets draft in the top three, the Blues will instead receive Winnipeg's 2019 first-round pick.

So Stastny goes from a team in a dogfight to not just try and make the playoffs but right its season to one that's in a great position to play for a championship.

"It's tough. It's been emotional," Stastny said at the team hotel before saying goodbyes to Blues players and departing for Winnipeg. "A lot going on in my head for the last, I don't know, 20 hours or whatever. Lots of pros and cons when I think about all that. I think it's tough leaving these guys, some of the closest guys I've ever been wit, 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. 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."

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong approached Stastny last week about the possibility of waiving his no-trade clause in wake that the team's struggles would continue, and the last straw has been the past two games, back-to-back 4-0 shutout losses to ironically Winnipeg and on Sunday at Nashville.

Stastny, 32, has played in all 63 games for the Blues this season and had 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists), but he was in the final year of a four-year, $28 million contract signed on July 1, 2014. He had a no-move clause and reportedly waived it in order to allow the trade to happen.

"Two or three weeks ago I didn't envision this being an option today," Armstrong said. "We were, I don't want to say comfortably in (the playoffs), but 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."

Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis while his father Peter Stastny finished his NHL career with the Blues with 175 points (56 goals, 119 assists); he has 633 points (216 goals, 417 assists) in 12 seasons with the Blues and Colorado Avalanche.

Despite the no-trade clause in his contract, the situation that is currently present of the longest losing streak since the end of the 2013-14 season made Stastny aware that anything was possible.

"I wasn't surprised," Stastny said. "I think I've always been brought up not to expect anything, so whether you have one of those or whether they tell you you're an untouchable, I think you never know what might happen this late in the season. In the back of your mind when you start losing, it might become a possibility. Sometimes you've got to do what's best for you and the family and they have to do what's best for them. I think when we're losing a little bit, then the possibility came up. I think with the situation we're in, there's maybe only a few teams I would have really taken serious consideration. I had no idea one of those teams would be seriously interested."

Now, Blues coach Mike Yeo somehow has to mold the group as is together and make some sort of push, because the Blues are still in the mix.

"It happens with injury. It happens with trades," Yeo said. "You know what, I've got a job to do. The players have a job to do. We're professionals and so I think you can deal with it a bunch of different ways. For me, the best way to deal with it is to say this is a great challenge, a great opportunity. Similar position that I feel we were in last year after trading 'Shatty' [Kevin Shattenkirk], I don't feel that people necessarily gave us a lot of chance, a lot of hope last year (finished 15-4-2). But our group found a way and it's our job to find a way again."

Foley, 20, was drafted 78th overall (third round) by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft. He's listed at 6-foot-0, 185 pounds and has played in 32 games with Providence this season and has 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists); he has 87 points (37 goals, 50 assists) in 104 games at Providence in three seasons.

Foley was a teammate of Tage Thompson in winning a gold medal with USA at the 2017 World Junior Championships and played two seasons with defensive prospect Jake Walman with Providence in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

"Foley is a player, he's a very good skating player, he played for the U.S. National team at the World Junior," Armstrong said. "He's a point-a-game player the last two years at Providence. Someone that again, as the game progresses where skating is imperative, he's a good skater. Brings another element to our group like that. We're excited to add not only a first-round pick, but someone that is much closer to turning pro than this first-round pick that we acquired will be."

The Blues have a top-10 protected first round pick this year but will lose it to Philadelphia as part of the trade last summer at the NHL Draft to acquire Brayden Schenn, and Armstrong was asked if it was important to recoup that pick.

"No. Going into the season it wasn't imperative to get that pick back ... It wasn't a huge thing, but when you're acquiring things for the future obviously you start with first-round picks and we were able to grab one in this deal," he said.

In that regard, the Blues were willing to part with the pick in a package to make the team better for an impact player before today's deadline expired, a top six forward to be exact. The name that has been out there for weeks is Ottawa forward Mike Hoffman, and it's believed the Senators were insistent on Tage Thompson, who the Blues were unwilling to part with.

Thompson was the Blues' first-round pick in 2016.

"Well, going into the process of trying to improve our team, there was no shortage of phone calls on four particular players -- [Klim] Kostin, [Jordan] Kyrou, Thompson and [Robert] Thomas," Armstrong said. "We weren't going to move one of those players for something that was a 12-18 month stop-gap situation, and so that took us out of the market on a lot of the players that moved today. What we did today when we got that first-round pick, we included that into the equation of players with more term to see if there was a way that we could find someone a little more advanced than an 18-year-old or a first-round pick is today. We had some dialogue with some teams, we just couldn't find the sweet spot. But that option will be there at the draft. We're going to have the ability to acquire a player at the draft and keep pushing forward. When we had that first-round pick, it did spar conversations about improving our team using it."

But in the end, when 2 p.m. (CT) came and went, the Blues parted with a key center iceman and did not replenish it with any help from the outside, so it means the group that is in place now, including Thompson and a number of young players, have to somehow find a way to get a job done.

"I'm sure we'll meet tonight and tomorrow morning and go over everything," said Blues left wing Alexander Steen, Stastny's best friend who took the news hard seeing the best man at his wedding leave. "Where we're at (and) looking at the way that we've been playing this last six games or whatever, we've got some adjustments to make. We'll obviously start talking about that as soon as this is past."

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