Report: ‘Canes assure Jordan Staal that Penguins trade rumors aren’t true (Updated)

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Back in 2012, then Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford acquired Jordan Staal from the Penguins after Staal reportedly rejected Pittsburgh’s 10-year offer. Now the general manager of the Penguins, could Rutherford really pull off a trade that brings him back to Pittsburgh?

That’s a real possibility according to a report from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but there’s already conflicting information on the matter:

Current Hurricanes GM Ron Francis could not be reached to comment directly on Sunday, per the News & Observer. It is worth noting though that Staal does have a full no-trade clause in his contract. His older brother and teammate, Eric Staal, has one too and is reportedly unwilling to allow a move. However, Eric’s contract expires at the end of the 2015-16 campaign, so Jordan Staal doesn’t have any assurances that he’ll be playing with his brother in the long run even if he sticks with Carolina.

The Tribune-Review report specified that we aren’t likely to see a move until the summer and noted that the Penguins would need to free cap space to make room for Jordan Staal. So at the end of the day, his return might not happen even if all sides are interested.

Meanwhile, the March 2 trade deadline is approaching and Francis plans to be “fairly active” as the struggling Hurricanes focus on the future.

Update: Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has stated that his team isn’t moving Jordan Staal, per the News & Observer’s Chip Alexander.

Report: Penguins interested in Jordan Staal

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Jordan Staal began his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that team is apparently once again interested in the 26-year-old center, who now plays for the Carolina Hurricanes, according to a report from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A move likely would not take place until after the season, though the Penguins have inquired about what it would take to obtain the Carolina Hurricane before the March 2 NHL trade deadline, sources said.

Such a move would require the Penguins to slash significant salary, as they are less than $1 million under the $69 million salary cap.

Staal signed a 10-year, $60 million contract in July 2012, days after the Penguins traded him to Carolina. Current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford signed Staal to the deal after swapping center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft.

The Penguins drafted Staal second overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. He played six seasons in Pittsburgh, before being traded to Carolina, where he was united with his brother Eric Staal.

Eric Staal on playing with Jordan: ‘We’re a threat every night’

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One would hope that the Carolina Hurricanes would get something like a lite version of what the Sedin twins have in pairing Eric Staal and Jordan Staal, but it turns out that isn’t quite as simple.

Instead, it’s been a learning process, as Eric told NHL.com that he spent most of his life competing against (rather than alongside) his brother Jordan.

“I’ve never played with him in my life,” Eric said. “Even on the outdoor rink we played against each other, so it’s not like I have anything to go on. I’ve watched him my whole life. I know his game, what he does, what he’s good at and what I’m good at, but we’re figuring it out as we go.”

The profile points out that the two have combined for 20 points since pairing up (Jordan in the middle, Eric moving to the wing) on Dec. 29. Eric remarked that “we’re a threat every night.”

After years of carrying depth linemates, it must be a luxury for Jordan to play with a partner as talented as his brother. It makes sense that his strategy is simply to get Eric the puck, then. Their size and skill remind their brother Marc Staal of playing against Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

It’s probably safe to say that it’s too late for the sibling pairing to be something opponents worry about (beyond being a spoiler threat), yet such comparisons have to give Carolina some much-needed hope for the future.

Eric Staal happy to stick with left wing to play alongside brother Jordan

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Eric Staal has made a career out of serving as a center, but recently the 30-year-old shifted to the left wing so that he could play on a line with his younger brother, fellow center Jordan Staal. That’s an arrangement Eric isn’t pushing to change.

“I’m having a lot of fun playing with Jordan,” the elder Staal said, per the News & Observer. “I’ve played center my whole life. It’s a different position on left wing, but when you’re playing with someone with his strengths, it balances and helps my game.”

Jordan didn’t make his season debut since Dec. 29 due to a fractured fibula, but his recent presence on the top line with his brother has been a big part of Carolina’s turnaround. The Hurricanes are 7-2-2 in January.

At the same time, shifting Eric Staal to the wing takes away Carolina’s potential one-two punch up the middle, which might be detrimental to the team in the long run. It also adds a new wrinkle as Eric edges closer to the expiration of his seven-year, $57.75 million contract in the summer of 2016.

Even with the Hurricanes’ recent run, their playoff hopes are all-but completely gone as they remain 18 points shy of the second Wild Card spot. Even still, if they stay hot in February, it might give GM Ron Francis cause to be conservative when selling assets over the deadline under the belief that this team is closer to contending than they appeared over the first half of the campaign.

That might also be enough to dampen the trade rumors swirling around Eric, which would also naturally be to his liking.

“I’ve been here a long time,” Eric said. “It’s a place that I hold in my heart, and obviously if I was asked differently or it came to that, you cross those bridges when you come to them. As of right now, I’m a member of the Hurricanes and that’s what I’m hoping to be, but you never know what can happen as you move forward.”

Video: Hurricanes double up Lightning for third straight win

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Eric Staal and Justin Faulk each had a goal and an assist and Jordan Staal added two helpers as the Carolina Hurrricanes doubled up the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 Tuesday night.

The loss halts Tampa’s three-game win streak while the Hurricanes have now won three straight for the first time since a four-game win streak in November.

Carolina is now 7-1-2 in January.

Nathan Gerbe and Jiri Tlusty had the other Canes’ goals.

Cedric Paquette and Brian Boyle responded for Tampa.

Ben Bishop made 18 saves in his first career loss to Carolina.

Anton Khudobin improved to 6-8-2 with a 28 save performance.

Tuesday was the final of three meetings between the two clubs this season. Tampa won the previous two games by identical 2-1 decisions.