Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Paul Stastny, center
Last team: Colorado Avalanche
2013-14 cap hit: $6.6 million
Stastny, a two-time NHL All-Star and six-time 20-goal scorer, is one of the best playmaking, two-way forwards the NHL has to offer. Much like his father, Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, Paul has great vision and is a terrific passer. He's especially good in traffic and is always aware of what's going on around him. He's not a particularly strong skater and his game isn't overly flashy, but Stastny has the ability to play all game situations while being incredibly efficient in his given ice time.
Before being selected by the Avalanche with the 44th-overall pick in the 2005 draft, Stastny played two seasons at the University of Denver and helped the Pioneers claim an NCAA championship in 2005. He's played his entire eight-year NHL career with Colorado, registering 160 goals and 458 points in 538 games. Last season, Stastny played 71 games and collected 60 points. He was spectacular in the postseason, scoring five goals and assisting five more in the Avs' seven-game series loss to the Minnesota Wild.
The Flyers need an impact player, and Stastny is an impact player. The problem? He's also a center -- and the Flyers definitely don't need any more of those. Never mind the money issue (he made $6.6 million last season), I just don't think the Flyers can or should take on more centers, even talented, intriguing ones like Stastny. In truth, I think he stays put, but even if he heads elsewhere, there's plenty of competition for him and it likely won't include the Flyers.
If Stastny wants to stay in Colorado, he'll likely need to take a hometown discount. The Avs have already dished out a ton of money to lock up Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Semyon Varlamov over the past calendar year. There also in contract discussions with restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly. Man, all you can do is envy Colorado's youth. Anyway, Stastny wouldn't be out of line to ask for $7 million-plus per season. Think about it. There are no unrestricted free agent centers in Stastny's league.
Which brings us to the point. Sorry to sound like a broken record (Sarah and I have been receiving your e-mails and tweets), but the Flyers simply can't afford Stastny. Sure, he'd be an ideal second-line center behind Claude Giroux, but the Flyers have more glaring needs on defense and wing. They need to address those areas first before adding another yet another centerman. And remember, there are teams with cap space this summer. In addition to Colorado, Stastny will likely be getting calls from Toronto, St. Louis and Dallas.