The player: Paul Stastny, 32, center
The terms: Three years, $6.5 million annually from the Vegas Golden Knights
Where does he fit in?
Assuming William Karlsson's RFA contract gets squared away, there's no reason to mess with the chemistry on Vegas' magical first line. That leaves Stastny as a true No. 2 center for the defending Western Conference champions. He was perhaps the best trade-deadline acquisition in 2017-18, fortifying the Patrik Laine line for the Winnipeg Jets, and he is a definite upgrade in Vegas over Erik Haula, who fizzled in the playoffs with three goals and six assists in 20 games. Owner Bill Foley has insisted he wants all free agents to jibe with the culture his team established in its inaugural season. Stastny can buy in as a Golden Misfit, perhaps seeking redemption after many clamored that his previous contract with the St. Louis Blues (four-years, $28 million) was a gross overpayment. At $6.5 million AAV, he'll have to live up this one, as well. Stastny will no doubt help Alex Tuch blossom as a top-six forward in this league, and should James Neal stay, that's a strong second line. Haula bumps down to the third line, and overall, the Knights are better.
Does this deal make sense?
Someone was bound to overpay for Stastny on the barren free-agent market, so it makes sense that the team with the most cap space to play around with gets it done. That said, $6.5 million is an awful lot for Stastny. The Golden Knights probably had to kick in a third year to compete with the many suitors for him. As per usual, the free-agent center offerings were slim. (Stastny was considered the accessible option for many teams that were out on John Tavares but didn't want to resort to Tyler Bozak, or worse.) The team that coveted Stastny dearly was the Jets, after he fit in so seamlessly after being acquired at the trade deadline. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff even cleared the cap space to make it work with Stastny, moving goalie Steve Mason and his burdensome contract to the Montreal Canadiens. For the second time in less than two months, it's the upstart Knights flexing their muscle on the Jets.
Overall grade: B
Centers are hard to acquire. Top-six centers available in free agency? That's like finding a Chanel handbag at TJ Maxx. It doesn't matter if it's twice as expensive than everything else on the rack; just grab it if you can. It's going to take some time for Vegas' draft picks to work their way up through the system. So while this team is still inexplicably good, management is going to have to supplement its roster through other teams' rejects. And Stastny is an above-average reject. He's a last-season Chanel handbag -- still functional, still showy, but not quite a luxury anymore and probably not worth what you paid for it.