Marc Staal has brothers, this is not new to you by now. Most of them as you will surely know are in Carolina and the longer Rangers defenseman Marc Staal goes without a new contract there will be the same old assumptions that he will end up in Carolina with his brethren. Recently, media reports have reported that Staal has begun to discuss a new contract with the Rangers – perhaps a new deal could come during training camp, which kicks off today. What hasn’t been discussed is the potential for Eric Staal to join Marc in New York.
Think about it for a second. The Rangers have a need for a top line center (unless Derek Stepan has a season we would all die for). They need size and skill down the middle to compete with the Kings and Bruins of the world and they have their own Staal brother to entice Eric to New York. With a cap ceiling that continues to grow, a move for the high priced Hurricanes captain is a legitimate possibility. Most assumptions are that Marc would join Eric but perhaps the smarter money would be on Eric changing zip codes and heading to NYC.
Fact is, Eric’s future in Carolina is perhaps as much up in the air as Marc’s is in New York – in fact, probably more. Like Marc, Eric is a one club guy to this point in his career but his career has somewhat stalled (not Staaled) in Carolina and he’s coming off an underwhelming year (61 points) despite earning significant money. Carolina are in rebuild mode and if Eric wants another cup run his chances are far greater away from Carolina. Eric would add a serious chunk of talent to the Rangers top six.
After the upcoming season, Eric has one year left in Carolina with a $8.25m cap hit. A daunting figure indeed but with a growing cap and a paucity of quality centers available around the league, Staal.E. would make sense for the Rangers if he became available. Center is also the one position where Carolina can afford to trade from to improve other parts of their club.
In Staal number three – Jordan – and Jeff Skinner, the Carolina club have two quality NHL centers to build around and a highly promising prospect in Elias Lindholm who has already got his feet wet in the big league too. With prospects such as Viktor Rask and serviceable NHL players such as Nathan Gerbe, the Hurricanes can afford to move their captain if it helped them rebuild. Center is the least of their concerns.
The main issues are whether a club in a non traditional hockey market like Carolina can afford to trade the face of their franchise and survive the probable backlash from their fan base while Rangers fans will rightly wonder whether the Rangers even have the assets Carolina would demand. Two major issues indeed that may hinder any Eric Staal trade but if Staal doesn’t see progression from the ‘Canes this coming season and indicates he wants to leave, it may force Ron Francis and the Hurricanes management into a move.
If the Rangers did have the resources to make a move for Eric Staal, Staal would make the Rangers a much more formidable opponent down the middle and a return to 70-80 point form for the center would be probable given he’d have better linemates, and be on a stronger team. At 29, Staal has plenty left to give and perhaps all he needs is a change of scenery to get back to his former elite, power forward ways. Eric being the Staal to be on the move and potentially joining his brother in New York doesn’t get much air time, but it’s an intriguing possibility and a move that could help both clubs improve. Everyone loves a good old fashioned hockey trade.