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.”