The Carolina Hurricanes added to their team once again Tuesday, as the Canes added veteran forward Paul Stastny on a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
Stastny has played 16 seasons in the NHL and has over 1,000 games under his belt. He’s scored 800 points in the league and has netted more than 20 goals in a season seven different times, including in 2021-22.
He’ll join a Carolina forward group that was dealt a big injury blow a few weeks ago when Max Pacioretty suffered an Achilles injury that will keep him out for a good chunk of the year.
With Stastny — as well as other offseason acquisitions in Ondrej Kase and two-way Ryan Dzingel — the Canes should be able to survive without Pacioretty for the first few months of the season. Stastny could compete for the Hurricanes’ 2C job, and he’ll certainly add a veteran voice in the locker room.
Tuesday evening Stastny met with members of the media via Zoom to discuss his decision to sign with the Canes.
Here is what he had to say:
On why the Canes were a good fit for him and on where he sees himself slotting in: I’m excited to join the squad. I’m excited to get going. I’ve always respected, the last couple of years for sure, the way they play. Every team is good on paper, but then to show consistencies and different challenges that teams bring upon you, Carolina was always one of those teams where it was like ‘these guys play good.’ They play the same style where all four lines come at you hard and aggressive. They play that smart two-way game. They’ve been close. We were always kind of interested in them. To make it work was something that I’m very excited about. It’s a center/wing combination for me. I kind of look at the forward depth and realize that there’s a lot of good players there who can play wing or center. When you play with those smart players, to me it really doesn’t matter.
On how he was able to find his goal-scoring touch last year: Longer season. The couple of seasons before that were kind of shorter seasons. I felt good. I tinkered a few things with the way I work out and my diet. I played with some good players. It’s more about creating chances. Sometimes you’re scoring goals when you shouldn’t be scoring goals, and sometimes you’re not scoring goals when you should be scoring goals. As long as you’re creating those chances, over the course of the year the law of averages always kind of gives and you’re going to get those opportunities. In today’s game I think you have so much skill where a lot of guys can score nice highlight-reel goals, and I’ve never been that guy. I always kind of find a way to get the front to the net and time the puck. When you look at all the goals in my career, I’m sure the majority of them are within 3 or 4 feet of the net. You’ve got to go to the hard areas to get goals.
On what excites him the most about the opportunity in Raleigh: I think it’s just winning. It’s a chance to win. I think that’s what everyone wants. It’s so hard. You can ask anybody at the start of the year and there’s 20 teams that think they have a chance at winning. But there’s a good mix of younger players coming into their own and veterans. I think it’s a coach who understands how to win. The last two years they’ve been pretty close to winning. You lose out to Tampa, who ends up winning it all. You lose out to New York in a seven-game series, and then New York easily could have beaten Tampa. Sometimes it’s just little plays here and there that determine a season and how good you can be. It takes a little luck. But I just like the combination they have of skill, speed, strength. It’s a mix of younger guys who are hungry and older guys who want to win as well.
On what he’s heard about playing for Rod Brind’Amour and on what about that excites him the most: Just honesty. I think he’s a straight shooter. I’ve heard a lot of things, that he’s very personable and gets to know his guys on and off the ice. That goes a long way. As a coach, I always kind of judge it on the way guys who have played for him — whether they were a first-line guy or the 13th forward — and they say the same amount of things. And also the way the team plays. They play that hard, two-way, aggressive, hunt-the-puck type of game that Rod was so successful at in his career. I think he’s kind of built an identity of that team, and it starts from him. He knows how to be successful, and I think the team kind of feeds off of that. I think the team believes and trusts his message.
On if he feels this team just kind of needs someone like him who has been through it and can help show the younger guys the way: Older guys like myself, or Burns or [Pacioretty], everyone tries to lead by example or teach kids different ways. For me, I’ve always kind of had nice relationships with all players and teammates I’ve had. I realize that every player is different. I’ve always been one of those guys that tries to help my teammates get better. If they’re doing well, the team’s doing well and everyone’s in a good mood, and I’ve kind of realized that. Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to learn that. I had my dad first and foremost, which was always nice for me when I was younger. But then I had the likes of Joe Sakic or Adam Foote or Pierre Turgeon, Andrew Burnette. These are guys who I am still close with, but I still remember my early days. Even when they did leave, they always tried to keep in touch and help me on and off the ice. I feel like a lot of it is really mental. It’s a long season that goes through ups and downs. Some guys put too much stress on themselves sometimes. Some guys take it too easy. There’s a fine balance. As I’ve gotten older I’ve kind of realized that, and you just try to teach that wisdom to the other guys.
On if he’s comfortable being the older guy: Yeah, I mean I’d rather be older than younger. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I love where I’m at. It’s always kind of fun playing with — whether it’s 20-year olds, 25-year olds or 30-year olds — different guys who are in different aspects of their life. Whether off the ice they’re getting married or on the ice getting better, it kind of gives you that jolt of energy. As much as they can learn from me, I can also learn different things from them. That kind of makes it fun.
On his reaction to the Max Pacioretty injury and on if he’s talked with him, and on when he intends to get to Raleigh: I felt bad for him. I’m really close with him. I know how hard he works and how motivated he is and how hungry he is. To get better and prove the doubters wrong, or to just keep showcasing his skill, it’s very unfortunate. You feel bad for him. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and think it could be a blessing in disguise. You never know. Time will tell, but maybe it will be good for him to just kind of reset a little and then when he does come in he’ll be that much more hungry and fresh in the middle of the season where everybody is lagging a little bit. There’s different ways to have perspective. I talk to [Pacioretty] every day, whether it’s about hockey or life or anything. We’re in similar stages in our career. We can talk about a lot of things that are not just hockey, and to me that is always kind of fun. And then hopefully around Labor Day I plan on coming down. I’ve got to figure out the living situation and schools for the kids. I think the last 12 hours we’ve been kind of busy on the phones all day figuring that stuff out. For my wife and I it’s about making it as easy as possible for our kids to be comfortable. I know how the NHL is. When you step in the locker room all the guys will welcome you with open arms. We’re all cut from the same cloth, so I’m excited to join these guys.
On if it was a consideration at all having to make the jump to the Eastern Conference and on the opportunity to get to play an outdoor game: Do they have an outdoor game? I didn’t even know that, to be honest with you. But yeah. That’s great. I’ve been through this process before and sometimes in your mind when you think you’re going to go to one place and that’s all you think about, something else kind of happens. Something good always comes out of it. I’ve done a good job with my dad and agent at taking a step back and looking at all the options and weigh them. The Eastern Conference thing, I always thought at one point I’d only play in the Western Conference, but it’s a new challenge. I think this league is so good now that it doesn’t matter if you’re playing on the best team in the Western Conference or the worst team in the Eastern Conference, every night is a competition and you’ve got to be at your best. But I told my wife now after playing with Carolina that I’ve played in the Pacific time zone, Mountain time zone, Central time zone and now Eastern time zone. We’ll get a little taste of everything. You only can learn from stuff like this. We come in with a positive attitude, and we’re excited about it.
On if he had any higher-money offers in free agency and on if him being a veteran made it easier to forego any larger cash offers for the chance to win: We had a lot of different options on the table. That’s one thing you’ve got to think about. I’ve been fortunate to play long enough that it’s not about the dollars and cents. Obviously it’s always nice. But you can see what your market value is in once sense, but at the same time my wife and I have always wanted a chance to win later in my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to play for good teams. You come close and realize how hard it is. Maybe it might never come, and that’s alright. But you give yourself a chance. When you have good teams come knocking on your door and they think you’re valuable, I think that’s a risk you’re always willing to take.
On if he sees himself as someone who can help fill the void for Pacioretty while he’s out: Yeah, but we’re different players on the ice and off the ice. He has that old-school mentality though, which I like. He’s very direct and honest. There’s no nonsense about him. I think sometimes young people take it the wrong way, but once they understand where he’s coming from and realize that he’s only trying to help you out then they realize that he wants to do everything. He’s not afraid to call someone out or be direct if it’s going to help that player become a better player and help the team win and get a couple of extra points. I think he’s learned from it. He was the captain in Montreal, which is the highest pressure maybe next to Toronto. It’s always tough being an American in a Canadian, especially a French, market. He’s seen the highs and lows. He’s seen what works and what doesn’t work. I think as you get older and you’ve played with so many good players and good teams, you see how different people lead and what works and doesn’t work. You try to be adaptable to all the different players. There’s one way to talk to a top-line guy, and there’s another way to talk to a fourth-line guy because they have different mindsets and different mentalities and different stress levels on all those guys.