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Jets acquire Blues’ Paul Stastny in pre-deadline trade

Winnipeg bolstered its center depth with help from a divisional rival.

NHL: Florida Panthers at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets have acquired veteran center Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues in a rare deal between divisional rivals, the teams announced Monday. St. Louis, which is retaining half of Stastny’s $7 million cap hit, receives prospect Erik Foley, a conditional 2018 first-round pick, and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick in the trade.

Stastny needed to waive his no-movement clause in order to finalize the deal, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. It’s not often you see guys wanting to play in Winnipeg, but the opportunity at a Stanley Cup can be a strong selling point.

The Jets had reportedly been searching for help up the middle with many different teams over the past few weeks. There were rumors of interest in forwards such as Ryan Hartman and Tomas Plekanec, but instead Winnipeg made a more surprising move by prying Stastny from St. Louis.

The Blues remain in the playoff hunt in the Central Division, so it’s a bit surprising that they’d be willing to deal such an important player. However, the team has lost six straight games and Stastny is an upcoming unrestricted free agent. This was a chance to sell high on a piece that probably wasn’t going to be part of next season anyway.

It’s hard not to see the trade as St. Louis waving the white flag on this season, though. The team is only one point out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, but trading a top-six center for picks and prospects is a clear sign that its turning its attention toward the future.