Adding offense has been at the center of the Carolina Hurricanes’ offseason.
After acquiring a pure goal scorer and losing him to injury for potentially half the season, they added one of his close friends who knows how to put the puck in the net in different ways.
Carolina signed veteran forward Paul Stastny to a one-year, $1.5 million deal, a move that shores up the championship contender’s forward depth following winger Max Pacioretty‘s Achilles tendon injury. Pacioretty is expected to miss six months, and while Stastny is far from a mirror image in terms of his style of play, the 36-year-old helps solve a major need that haunted the Hurricanes in the playoffs.
“We’re different players, I think, on the ice, off the ice,” Stastny, who’s coming off a 21-goal renaissance, said about Pacioretty, who has scored 30-plus in a season six times. “I always find a way to get the puck to the net, kind of time the puck. If you look at all my goals in my career, I’m sure the majority are from within 3, 4 feet of the net. You’ve got to go to the hard areas to get goals.”
The Hurricanes have plenty of flashy, young skill, including first-liners Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Still, they averaged fewer than three goals during the playoffs, leading to a second-round exit amid Stanley Cup expectations.
Stastny provides veteran goal-scoring ability and strong all-around play. Like younger teammates, he has never won the Cup and turned down other offers to join Carolina with that in mind.
“My wife and I have always wanted a chance to win,” Stastny said. “It’s later in our career. We’ve been fortunate enough to play on good teams, and you come close and you realize how hard it is. Maybe it might never come. That’s all right. But as long as you give yourself a chance and you have good teams come knocking on your door and they think you’re valuable, I think that’s a risk we’re always willing to take.”
Stastny’s 21 goals in 71 games with Winnipeg in 2021-22 made it his most productive season in several years. He credited changes to his workout regime and diet – and a full NHL season for the first time in a while – for that uptick.
Playing entirely in the Western Conference to this point, Stastny has 310 goals in 1,175 regular-season and playoff games. He also gives Carolina some insurance down the middle after losing Vincent Trocheck to the New York Rangers in free agency.
“Paul is an extremely reliable veteran who has been effective at both ends of the ice for his entire career,” general manager Don Waddell said in a statement. “He adds even more experience and leadership to our forward group, and we are excited to have him in Carolina.”
The Hurricanes have had a busy offseason, acquiring Pacioretty from Vegas and getting 2017 Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Brent Burns from San Jose. Burns is 37 but could also help Carolina score more on the power play and at even strength with the goal of getting over the hump in coach Rod Brind’Amour’s fifth season behind the bench.