MacKinnon on Stastny: ‘We need him, plain and simple’

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There’s more than a little uncertainty surrounding the Colorado Avalanche’s chances of bringing back pending unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny. His (current?) teammate Nathan MacKinnon made one thing clear to the Denver Post, though: he really wants his linemate back next season.

“I just don’t want it to happen. I don’t want Pauly to go,” MacKinnon said. “He was a huge part of our team. He took all the biggest faceoffs, probably got to see the other teams’ top lines all season and still had 60 points in (71) games. He’s definitely one of our top players and we need him, plain and simple.

MacKinnon might sound a little naive there – it fits, really, since he’s a lock to win the 2014 Calder Trophy tonight – yet maybe the 18-year-old is just being optimistic.

“I’m young, but I realize it’s a business,” MacKinnon said. “You can’t play forever, and you have to be fair. He’s going to be fair to the Avalanche and the Avalanche are going to be fair to him. In my head, it’s just a matter of time before it gets done, and hopefully it can.”

OK, maybe he’s being naive.

Still, it’s easy to see why the budding star wants Stastny to stick around. The 28-year-old center isn’t as flashy as MacKinnon, yet he’s a versatile player who complimented the soon-to-be-sophomore quite well alongside fellow young forward Gabriel Landeskog.

Of course, there could be a silver lining to Stastny leaving town for MacKinnon, especially if Ryan O’Reilly doesn’t come back either. MacKinnon probably hopes to slide into a prominent spot as a center in Colorado, a change that would certainly be more likely if two strong pivots headed out the door.

Ultimately, there are advantages and disadvantages to the Avalanche taking care of business with Stastny. “Keeping MacKinnon happy” adds serious incentive to get something done, though.