On Tuesday night, PHT postulated that the Carolina Hurricanes would have to replace Jordan Staal’s versatile work by committee. It appears that’s the early plan, as his brother Eric Staal told the team website.
“We’re going to have to do it collectively,” Eric Staal said on Wednesday. “It’s not going to be one person because there’s not many that can do what he does. He’s a big, big man that’s tough to play against. We’re going to have to have other guys step up collectively to play those minutes and gain some experience from that.”
New head coach Bill Peters got a little more specific, noting that players like defensive specialist Jay McClement will probably carry a heavier burden that initially planned.
“It opens up opportunities for various players,” Peters said (also on Wednesday). “We need someone to take his minutes on the power play. We need somebody else to take his minutes on the PK. We’ll probably need Jay Mac (McClement) to take a lot more D-zone draws than we originally thought, but you know what? We have enough guys, and if we have the mindset that we can do it by committee, we’ll get the job done.”
These comments came a day before word broke that Jordan Staal is expected to miss three-to-four months and will need surgery, but it’s likely that the team was aware that it would be a tough situation even if there wasn’t a prognosis at that point.
One can’t blame Peters for being positive, but Jordan Staal was the rare player who could log about a minute and a half of penalty kill time, produce useful offense (even if his numbers were disappointing last season) and carry linemates like Nathan Gerbe (pictured with an agonizing Staal).
As you can see in this post, the players who might absorb some of that loss were highly specialized in their offense-heavy or defense-heavy roles last season, so Peters might face quite a puzzling game of Lineup Jenga to make it all work.
It’s quite a test for everyone involved, even if Staal comes back a little bit sooner than anticipated.