Last week, Carolina GM Ron Francis shot down Eric Staal trade rumors by saying that “everybody looks for the big centerman,” adding “we’re not looking to move a guy like that.”
Well, the ‘Canes aren’t moving Staal out of town — but they are moving him out of the middle. Tonight against Winnipeg, the captain will play on Victor Rask’s wing for the second straight game as Carolina looks to win for the sixth time in seven outings.
“We think Victor is a guy who can make plays on his forehand,” head coach Bill Peters explained, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “Staalsy with wide speed can be dangerous on the rush.”
Staal was on right wing during Thursday’s line rushes, a role reversal from Monday’s 4-1 win over Calgary in which he played on the left (and fired a team-high five shots on goal). While the 30-year-old isn’t totally embracing the move, he knew it was likely — Peters said they talked about him playing on brother Jordan’s wing in the preseason — and does acknowledge a move wide is beneficial for the team.
“It’s different,” Staal said. “It depends on what type of game it is, to be honest. I mean I like having the puck, I like being around the puck. Last game was good. I thought our line generated a lot. We had some good shifts, and Victor’s playing with some confidence.
“Hopefully it will be good. We’ve got some good balance and different lines going and obviously wins is what we’re here for and the most important thing.”