At 31 years of age, Eric Staal may not be the player he used to be.
Who was the last center with Staal’s credentials to hit the open market? Brad Richards in 2011? It just doesn’t happen very often anymore.
Not that Staal will necessarily hit the market.
“I would like to [re-sign with Carolina],” he said today on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central at Noon. “Obviously there’s decisions that need to be made moving forward.”
Indeed there are. And let’s remember that the Hurricanes aren’t the Lightning or the Kings. They’re not trying to remain Stanley Cup contenders. They’re not even close to that right now. Even if Staal does really want to stay, re-signing him may not make the most sense for GM Ron Francis.
Does Staal expect to maintain, or even stay in the neighborhood of, his current $8.25 million cap hit?
How many years does he want?
If the answers are “yes” and “quite a few,” the ‘Canes may be better off trading him at the deadline — or even just letting him walk for nothing — then rebuilding around youngsters like Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, not to mention whoever they get in the upcoming draft, which could be Auston Matthews.