Staal: One more elite forward and Carolina’s “among the top teams in the Eastern Conference”

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Eric Staal likes how aggressive the Hurricanes have been in acquiring talent this offseason.

Now he hopes it’ll continue.

After Carolina boldly pried Jordan Staal out of Pittsburgh and tried valiantly to get Rick Nash from Columbus, the ‘Canes captain feels like his team is on the verge of something big.

“For me, just the fact that we’re even in the mix, that we threw offers out there to these elite guys, is exciting,” Staal told the Raleigh News and Observer. “Sometimes you hear the same teams every year doing the same things. For us to be involved and make a pitch, it was big. We aren’t far off.

“We’ve got some very good pieces in place, and if we can add, like they’re saying, another elite forward, it will definitely put us in the mix among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.”

The question, of course, is if an elite forward can be acquired.

After Zach Parise went off the market, almost every NHL team (not located in Minnesota) shifted its focus to Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan. If the ‘Canes don’t win either of those sweepstakes — and based on the number of alternate suitors, it’ll be hard to — then it’s off to the scraps of free agency.

That’s important, because the type of talent Carolina needs might not be available. The ‘Canes best forwards are the Staals, Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen which, for you mathletes out there, is only five guys. (All apologies to Jiri Tlusty and Chad LaRose.)

They need another to round out the top six, which is probably why they’ve expressed mild interest in Alex Semin. He might not be the elite talented needed to compete with the best in the East, but could be good enough to get Carolina back into the playoff picture.