Anton Stastny

Unlike brothers Peter and Marian, Anton Stastny was not the flashiest of players. This is likely due to his skating.

While both of his brothers were exceptional skaters, Anton was average. He did not have a lot of speed or even agility on his feet.

Anton compensated for his lack of foot skills through his excellent hockey sense. He had an uncanny ability to read the play developing, both offensively and defensively, and was able to use that to give himself a head start to get into the perfect position.

It helped that he often played with his brothers, particularly Peter. Since they had played together since childhood, they knew what each other was going to do instinctually. They had a number of plays together, particularly the ol' fake a shot and pass to the brother who just got himself clear from his check.

Anton had good hands and could carry the puck and make nice passes through traffic. He possessed a good wrist shot, but rarely used from far out. Instead he liked to operate down low near the crease. He had the hands to make plays in tight, and the size and sense to use his body to gain positioning in the scrums near the goalie.

This made him an important part of the Nordiques power play. Nearly 32% of his career goals came while with the man-advantage.

Bottom line was Anton Stastny was a good, heady hockey player who was better with his brothers than he would have been without them. He had a good offensive skill set, but little interest in the physical game.

Interestingly, Anton was the first Slovakian player ever drafted by the NHL, although it was not the Nordiques who originally claimed him. In 1978 the Philadelphia Flyers 198th overall in the 1978 Amateur Draft. He was ruled ineligible due to confusion over his age. The Quebec Nordiques took advantage and drafted him 83rd overall in 1979.

Of course back then it was incredibly unlikely that any player in Communist Europe would be released to play in North America, especially a player as young as Anton and Peter. The two had to boldly defect to pursue a career in the National Hockey League, with Marian defecting later on. Had they not, they likely would not have had careers in the NHL at all.

Like his brothers, he was proud to live in Canada. He secured his Canadian citizenship on April 2nd, 1984 and later that year tried out for Team Canada at the Canada Cup. While Peter made the team, Anton was one of last cuts.

Anton Stastny played in nine NHL seasons, generally pushing the 30 goal, 75 point mark. His best season was his third campaign when he scored 32 goals, 60 assists and 92 points.

All in all Anton scored 252 goals, 384 assists and 636 points in 650 NHL games. He added 20 goals and 52 points in 66 playoff contests.

The Nordiques bought out Anton's contract after the 1988-89 season. Anton returned to Europe, signing in Switzerland. He maintained close hockey ties with the Swiss and once again with Slovakia after the fall of communism.


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