Jordan Staal

Would Carolina be better off trading Eric Staal?


Expectations were already pretty low for the 2014-15 Carolina Hurricanes, but after a slew of injuries, the team is in such a state that grim comments like these ring true:

With all the doom, gloom and injuries, there’s the impulse to wonder if the organization might be best served by cleaning house or at least making some big changes. That’s an especially interesting consideration since new GM Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters inherited this ‘Canes core from an old regime.

In other words, all the ingredients are coming together to produce the latest round of Eric Staal trade rumors.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that, at some point before the season began, the 29-year-old expressed a willingness to waive his no-trade clause to join the Toronto Maple Leafs. The asking price would be steep: possibly some combination of a first-round pick, occasional healthy scratch victim Jake Gardiner and one of Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons shed some additional light on the rumors, noting the following:

  • A deal involving Gardiner and Kadri may be more realistic, as a first-rounder (particularly in the 2015 NHL Draft) would be too steep. (Some believe even that package would be too steep.)
  • Nothing has been discussed since the regular season kicked off.

HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman was a little more coy about the situation in his weekly 30 Thoughts for Sportsnet:

There’s no guarantee the Hurricanes move Staal, and he controls the situation. But teams are going to take a close look at him — just in case. You forget he’s still a week shy of 30.

Keeping in mind that this is pure speculation – possibly stemming from talks that cooled since the first meaningful hockey began, according to Simmons – would such a move be worth it for the Hurricanes or a team looking to grab the big center?

Carolina’s concerns

During the offseason, PHT readers were asked about various trade routes for Carolina. The most common answers were “Blow it up” and “Stay put,” but after that, a greater number of readers opted for trading Eric Staal than those who recommended moving the likes of Alexander Semin, his brother Jordan or Jeff Skinner.

(Names like Cam Ward were excluded because, frankly, that would have been too easy.)

From a box office standpoint, trading Staal could be risky for Carolina. He’s the captain, a four-time All-Star and a player who truly blossomed in the Hurricanes’ unexpected run to winning the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Let’s also not forget that Carolina isn’t necessarily a marquee destination for free agents; aside from Semin, the Hurricanes’ best players tend to come from the draft (Eric Staal, Skinner, Ward) or trades (Jordan Staal). The franchise may very well regret parting with its No. 1 center.

Staal’s value

That said, he’s two weeks from turning 30 and carries a hefty salary cap price tag of $8.25 million through the 2015-16 season.

Stats blogger turned NHL team employee Eric Tulsky broke down how quickly things tend to go so south as a forward hits the big 3-0:

In addition, we now have an estimate of how even strength scoring ability changes through a player’s 30’s. On average, players retain about 90% of their scoring through age 29, but the drop from there is pretty sharp — they hit 80% at age 31, 70% at age 32-33, and 60% at age 35.

If anything, Eric Staal might be showing earlier signs of decline. His 100-point season from 2005-06 almost seemed like a mirage, as he eventually settled mostly in the mid-70’s during what might be considered his prime years. The 2012-13 season provided some renewed hope for true dominance – his 53 points in 48 games would translate to 90 over a full season – but he dropped down to 61 points last season.

Plenty of teams would gladly add a guy with 60-point or 70-point potential, but that might not be satisfying at Staal’s price tag, especially at the cost of some nice assets. Still, Simmons lays out a solid argument for why Staal might be especially enticing:

But Staal, the Hurricanes captain, is the kind of gem of a player, if available, who would interest just about anybody. He is 6-foot-4. He has played some of his best hockey at the Air Canada Centre. He has had 100- and 90-point seasons in his career. He is coming off one of the few poor seasons of his career. But the year before, the shortened 48-game lockout year, he scored at 90-point pace.

The last Leafs centre to have a 90-point season was Mats Sundin. That was 17 years ago.


It’s important to note that talks have reportedly simmered down, yet with Carolina struggling and teams hungry to improve, it’s plausible that they could rev back up again.

Video: Foligno scores, Sekera crashes hard into boards

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The Buffalo Sabres had a golden 2-on-1 opportunity midway through the first period of tonight’s game against Carolina and Marcus Foligno capitalized on it by burying the puck past goaltender Cam Ward.

At the same time Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera was skating hard to try and get back into the play, but he ended up tripping over Ward and crashed hard into the end boards. He went to the dressing room and didn’t return before the end of the first period.

Update: Carolina has announced that Sekera has an upper-body injury and won’t return tonight.

You can see the play in the video below, including Foligno’s goal and Sekera’s injury:

Here is more of the immediate aftermath of Sekera’s injury:

Carolina has already dealt with more than its fair share of injuries so far in 2014-15. Jeff Skinner (concussion), Pat Dwyer (lower body), Eric Staal (upper body), and Jordan Staal (leg) weren’t available tonight.

NHL on NBCSN: Hurricanes, Sabres seek first win of 2014-15


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Carolina Hurricanes host the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena at 7 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

To put things mildly, things haven’t been going well for the Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0) or the Buffalo Sabres (0-3-0) so far this season. It’s safe to say that Tuesday’s game will elicit more than a few references to Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and the 2015 NHL Draft in general.

Despite the “tanking” talk that might arise on social media, the bottom line is that both teams should be motivated to grab that elusive first win of 2014-15.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $8,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $800. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Hurricanes will come into tonight’s game limping, as they’re essentially running out of Staal brothers thanks to some really bad injury luck. With Eric Staal and Jordan Staal on the sidelines and Jeff Skinner dealing with another worrisome concussion, Carolina fans must wonder if luck will come this team’s way.

Tonight’s matchup may represent a smidgen of luck, as fatigue is likely to weigh against the Sabres after Monday’s ugly 5-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks. On paper, this seems like a great opportunity for a Hurricanes team that fell to the New York Islanders by one goal in each of their first losses; Buffalo’s -10 goal differential is easily the worst in this young season, and it’s not as if goaltending is the main cause of the Sabres’ woes.

That said, the Sabres are playing for pride as much as they’re shooting for their first victory. When your coach deems your efforts to be at a youth hockey level, you know that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“We need to go into Carolina and win,” Tyler Ennis told the Buffalo News. “We need to be mad. We need to get angry. We need to play really hard, and we’re going to.”

Some bright lights for each team

The Sabres already possess some of the promising young pieces they’ll need to dig out of this hole.

Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons are the Sabres’ only players who’ve scored goals so far this season, with two apiece. Girgensons and Cody Hodgson (off to a slow start with zero points) are among the players expected to help turn things around.

Drew Stafford is also off to a nice start with three assists in as many games.

The Hurricanes are banged up, but Jiri Tlusty comes into Tuesday’s game on a hot streak after generating the second hat trick of his NHL career on Saturday. Alexander Semin could be another player to watch with two assists so far.


These two teams are hurting right now, but one will finally get in the “win” column after tonight’s contest.

Hard-luck ‘Canes lose (another) Staal, Dwyer to injury


Already without the services of top-six forwards Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner, the Carolina Hurricanes were dealt another significant blow on Monday as captain Eric Staal (upper body) was ruled out of tomorrow’s game against Buffalo, along with checking winger Patrick Dwyer.

Staal, who had two points in Carolina’s first two games of the season, was injured on Saturday night against the Islanders on this Matt Martin hit from behind:

Staal, who appeared woozy on the play, left the game momentarily but returned to play parts of the second and third period before exiting for good with 11 minutes left in the final frame.

Dwyer, one of Carolina’s top penalty killers, also left Saturday’s game in the third period and didn’t return. The 31-year-old’s presence will be missed in the lineup; Dwyer scored a career-high 22 points last year for the ‘Canes and finished third among all forwards in hits, with 107.

Canes lose again to Isles, Eric Staal leaves with injury


The Carolina Hurricanes announced that Eric Staal and Patrick Dwyer will not return late to Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders. Staal is dealing with an upper-body injury while Dwyer has a lower-body issue.

Staal, 29, scored a goal in Friday’s loss to the Islanders and had an assist in tonight’s back-to-back rematch. The Hurricanes telecast indicated that a Brian Strait hit might have caused Staal’s discomfort.

Being that this issue cropped up late in the contest, it’s too early to panic, yet there’s no additional information regarding Staal’s condition. With his brother Jordan Staal hurting with a broken bone in his leg and Jeff Skinner dealing with another worrisome concussion, it’s a pretty worrisome situation for Carolina.

Staal contributed to Jiri Tlusty’s hat trick tonight, but it wasn’t enough. The Islanders ended up winning 4-3.