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Denver junior Paul Stastny will forego his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility after signing a multi-year contract with the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche today. Stastny was the club’s second round selection (No. 44 overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He begins his NHL career with the same franchise that his hockey hall-of-fame father, Peter Stastny, began with when he signed with the Quebec Nordiques as a free-agent in 1980. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Stastny, a 6-foot, 210-pound forward was named to the All-USCHO.com Third Team and the RBK West All-America Second Team in 2006 after scoring a career-high 53 points on 19 goals and 34 assists. Stastny was named to the All-WCHA first team after leading the league in scoring with 44 points on 15 goals and 29 assists in 28 league games and also earned All-WCHA Academic honors.

“We’re happy for Paul and his decision to join the Colorado Avalanche,” head coach George Gwozdecky said. “National success comes with a price and Paul is the third DU player in the past two seasons that has decided to pursue his NHL dreams early. Paul’s a proven winner that will no doubt help the Avs in the future.”

In Stastny’s first season as a Pioneer in 2004-05, he helped lead the Pioneers to the second of back-to-back National Championships in a Frozen Four All-Tournament Team performance when he scored two goals and assisted on another in DU’s 4-1 win over North Dakota in the National Championship game. He was named WCHA Rookie of the Year and USCHO.com Rookie of the Year after finishing third in the nation in rookie scoring (1.07 points per game) with 45 points on 17 goals and 28 assists in 42 games.

Stastny will depart DU with 98 career points, scoring 36 goals and registering 62 assists in 81 games. He joins former Pioneers Matt Carle (2006), Brett Skinner (2005) and Mark Rycroft (2000) as the only players to depart school early for the NHL since 2000.