At 31 years of age, Eric Staal may not be the player he used to be.
But he’s still pretty good. And if Steven Stamkos and Anze Kopitar re-sign with the Lightning and Kings, respectively, Staal could really make a killing in unrestricted free agency this summer.
Who was the last center with Staal’s credentials to hit the open market? Brad Richards in 2011? It just doesn’t happen very often anymore.
Not that Staal will necessarily hit the market.
“I would like to [re-sign with Carolina],” he said today on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central at Noon. “Obviously there’s decisions that need to be made moving forward.”
Indeed there are. And let’s remember that the Hurricanes aren’t the Lightning or the Kings. They’re not trying to remain Stanley Cup contenders. They’re not even close to that right now. Even if Staal does really want to stay, re-signing him may not make the most sense for GM Ron Francis.
Does Staal expect to maintain, or even stay in the neighborhood of, his current $8.25 million cap hit?
How many years does he want?
If the answers are “yes” and “quite a few,” the ‘Canes may be better off trading him at the deadline — or even just letting him walk for nothing — then rebuilding around youngsters like Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, not to mention whoever they get in the upcoming draft, which could be Auston Matthews.
The Minnesota Wild will be without defenseman Marco Scandella for at least the next two games.
Scandella has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury that he suffered Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
The Wild will miss him while he’s gone, for however long that may be.
“He’s a huge part of our defensive group, a huge part of our defensive game, but the execution part of it, his skating ability, his play on the special teams, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity there for somebody else to step in and take advantage of it,” coach Mike Yeo told the Star Tribune.
The Wild have called up defenseman Gustav Olofsson to take Scandella’s spot on the roster.
According to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo, “Yeo didn’t seem overly convincing this will end up being a short-term thing for Scandella.”
The Wild take on the Bruins tonight in Boston.
Travis Hamonic may not be traded right away, but it sure sounds like his days with the New York Islanders are numbered.
“The root of all of this is a personal, family matter,” Hamonic said today, per NHL.com. “That’s as far as I’m going to go, that it’s a personal, family matter. I think the Islanders have been great with me throughout this whole process. I know people are going to say and write what they want, but it has nothing to do with the organization or how I’ve been treated here. I’ve been honestly treated like gold from the start.”
Hamonic’s name became the talk of the league yesterday after Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Isles were trying to trade the 25-year-old defenseman, at Hamonic’s request.
Per Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post, Hamonic says he’d be willing to finish the season with the Isles. So at the very least, GM Garth Snow doesn’t have to make a deal today. Trading players in the offseason is typically much easier.
Now, some have argued that the Isles have no obligation whatsoever to trade Hamonic, that he signed his contract and he should have to honor it.
But let’s be real here — playing hardball with an employee who’s clearly dealing with a serious family matter doesn’t do much for an organization’s reputation.
And besides, there are more important things in the world than hockey.
In fact, it’s a pretty long list of things that are more important.
Mike Babcock for coach of the year?
If the voting were done today, he’d probably get my vote. (Also, I’d need to be eligible to vote.)
Yes, I’m aware the Toronto Maple Leafs have only won six games. But here’s the thing: they’ve actually been pretty competitive this year. And with four wins in their last five tries — including victories in Dallas and Nashville — it’s starting to show in the results.
“It’s just a change of mentality,” said young defenseman Morgan Rielly, perhaps the key player on the current roster, given the Leafs haven’t had a truly elite blue-liner since, who, Borje Salming? Or maybe Larry Murphy, before he was run out of town? Whatever. It’s been a while.
“There’s no question it’s been different,” Rielly continued. “The guys are looking forward to coming in. (Babcock) is doing something that all the guys are agreeing with. We all want to win for him and compete every night. The credit goes to him. He’s done a really good job of keeping us driven and focused and the results are starting to come.”
Consistently one of the worst puck-possession teams in the NHL the last few seasons, the Leafs’ score-adjusted Corsi currently ranks 18th, per war-on-ice.com.
Hey, I didn’t say they were a great team. Just that they were getting better. And isn’t that what Babcock was brought in to do? Slowly but surely, make them better.
Toronto’s next game is Friday in Carolina.
The Montreal Canadiens seem to be losing their bet on Alex Semin.
Semin will be a healthy scratch tonight versus Arizona. And here’s the kicker: he’ll be replaced on the right side of the second line by a guy who was previously centering the fourth line.
Torrey Mitchell, 30, has never scored more than 10 goals in a season, but in the eyes of coach Michel Therrien, he’s a better option with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk than Semin.
“Part of our job is to try to find a solution from within our group,” said Therrien, per the Montreal Gazette. “I really like the way Torrey was playing in his role, but he’s capable of playing the right side. He has a lot of speed and he has the respect of his teammates because he plays the right way.”
Semin has one goal and two assists in 12 games, with just 14 shots total. Just about the only thing he’s been doing lately is unnecessarily putting his team shorthanded. (Caps fans: try to contain your surprise.)
Anyway, feel free to come up with some trade ideas, because this may be an area the Canadiens need to address before the deadline.
I’ve come up with one: