The Carolina Hurricanes are in Ottawa tonight to face the Senators and, as has often been the case this year, local media spent most of the pregame availability talking to ‘Canes captain Eric Staal.
Staal, a pending UFA that’s been at the center of trade rumors for close to a calendar year, replied with mostly the usual song-and-dance.
But he did drop a couple of interesting soundbites:
It sounds as though an entire season of speculation has worn on the 31-year-old. Back in mid-January, he said the uncertainty was “more challenging than I thought it would be.”
“I have a family,” Staal added. “There’s things you think about. My brother’s playing here. There are a lot of different things you think about.”
Staal’s contract situation has dragged on throughout the campaign. Just prior to the start of the regular season, reports suggested he and the club weren’t close on an extension but, in November, he expressed his desire to remain in Carolina.
In early December, though, another report surfaced — claiming GM Ron Francis and Staal’s agent, Rick Curran, had mutually agreed to put off any contract talks until the new year.
But we’re now six weeks into the new year, and there hasn’t been much traction.
It certainly sounds like Staal is mentally prepared to make a move.
And with that in mind — and his above comments about playing with his brother — do consider this bit from the New York Post, which suggests Staal would be the missing piece for the Rangers.
Staal is an impending free agent whose future in Carolina is unclear.
The 31-year-old has a no-move clause, but if GM Ron Francis is not willing to commit to him as the franchise’s ongoing standard-bearer, there would seem more than just a chance Eric would waive it in order to join younger brother Marc on Broadway.
Know this: The Rangers have talked about Eric Staal before.