Avs’ Stastny: ‘I’m way better than I was my first couple years’

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Though his production has tailed off recently, Paul Stastny insists he’s a superior player now to when he broke into the league six seasons ago.

“I think I’m way better than I was my first couple years,” Stastny told the Denver Post. “Whether I’ve played with different guys or different systems, the numbers don’t show it, but I feel better, that’s the most important thing.”

That’s an interesting take, especially when you consider the numbers.

Stastny debuted at 21 and had a tremendous rookie campaign, scoring 78 points in 82 games while finishing as the runner-up to Evgeni Malkin for the ’07 Calder Trophy.

The next year, no sophomore slump. Stastny put up 71 points in just 66 games despite missing extensive time with appendicitis and a groin injury.

That earned him a massive five-year, $33 million extension from the Avs (a deal that expires this season.)

A broken arm and foot injury derailed his 2008-09 campaign — he only played 45 games, scoring 36 points — but Stastny bounced back in 2009-10, scoring a career-high 79 points as the Avs made a surprising playoff appearance.

From there, it’s been a rough ride.

Stastny’s contract — which carries a hefty $6.6 million cap hit annually — has made him a constant target for trade rumors, as has his declining production.

His points-per-game average has dropped in each of the last three years, from 0.77 in 2010-11 to 0.67 in 2011-12 to 0.60 last season.

Despite this, Stastny insists he’s a superior player today.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to get back to believing in yourself,” he told the Post. “I expect to be a point-a-game player when I’m playing with confidence.”