Paul Stastney thinks the Winnipeg Jets are on the edge of something exceptional.
However, the 35-year-old center knows he’s not the only NHL player to get excited about his team in the off-season.
“Everyone thinks they’re a piece or two away but when you have a goalkeeper like (Connor Hellbuick) and offensive firepower and some dynamic defense, you’re there,” Stastney said in a video call on Tuesday.
The difference with Gates, he added, is hunger and drive – especially following final season’s disappointing end.
Winnipeg finished the routine season third in Canada’s only one-time Northern Division with a 30-23-3 score.
The Jets knew they were the underdogs heading to a first-round playoff against Conor McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers. But Winnipeg swept the series.
The magic waned in the second round, with the Montreal Canadiens expelling the Jets in four straight games.
“What happened final year, we considerate of got a taste of what the potential could be and we want to persevere building on that,” Stastney said.
That potential is part of what prompted the veteran to sign a one-year, $3.75 million deal with the Jets on Monday.
The fact that his family adapted so well to living in Winnipeg also helped.
“At this point in my career, I’ve been in distinct places, I’ve played with distinct coaches, distinct organizations. (Winnipeg) was the best for me on the snow and off for my family,” she said.
Last season marked Stastney’s first packed year with the Jets. He came to Winnipeg – for the second time – final October on a business deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.
He previously played 19 games for the Jets in 2018 prior signing with Vegas as a free agent.
The Quebec City-born player, who is six feet 193 pounds, scored 29 points (13 goals and 16 assists) in final year’s intense campaign for the pandemic, and added a goal and assist during the playoff round.
Winnipeg was powerful through most of the routine season but faltered, losing seven straight games in late April and beforetime May.
Stastney said that while the losing slip was firm, it was heartening to see the camaraderie in the locker room and how the players refused to cease.
When you can preserve this essence intact… Everyone somewhat remembers success and the bitter taste of defeat.– Winnipeg Jets Ball Stony Center
He added that there are a number of lessons the group can learn from the highs and lows of the former year going forward.
“When you can preserve that foundation intact, a lot of the alike guys, everybody considerate of remembers success and the bitter taste of defeat,” Stastney said. “It’s considerate of motivating them to bring more to the table and realize what we can do to triumph, whether we’re playing against a defensive team or a lofty-flying offensive team.”
The Jets added to the lineup on Monday as well, buying defender Brenden Dillon from Washington Capitals for their second recruitment rounds in 2022 and 2023.
Stastney watched the six-foot-four, 220-pound defenseman develop his playing style and said Dillon’s offensive team had grown significantly in the former few years.
He’s playing with that edge, he’s playing that much a little bit. And that’s big,” Stastney said.
Dillon, 30, was playing beer league hockey with his neighbor in Washington, D.C., on Monday when news of the trade reached him via social media.
“I think any time you’re traded there’s going to be a little bit of frustration that goes along with that,” he told reporters in a video call on Tuesday. There’s a considerate of ‘Could I do something distinct? “
After scoring 19 points (2 goals, 17 assists) final season, Dillon felt he had played some of the best hockey. With three years remaining on his contract with Washington, he wasn’t expecting to relocate during the recession.
However, the producer of New Westminster, BC, is looking forward to playing to an enthusiastic and passionate market with a “really pleasing team”.
“I’m going to a team that wants to triumph and thinks we can triumph and thinks we are there,” Dillon said. “It’s exciting, to go on season with those expectations.”