Carolina Hurricanes first line center Eric Staal is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it is hard to believe that the star will make it to free agency. All signs are showing that a contract will not be signed in Carolina. If a resigning were to happen I would think that it would have happened by now. The Hurricanes are off to a 19-18-7 (45 Points) record. Although they are just two points out of a wildcard position the prospect of the Hurricanes surging into a playoff position look dim. This would lead many to believe that Staal just may be the biggest fish available on trade deadline day.
The 30-year-old year old Staal has been very quiet about the pending free agency. Staal is currently in his 12th season with the Hurricanes. The only team that the 6’4” center has ever played professional hockey for. He has been very loyal to the Hurricanes, and raised his one and only Stanley Cup there in 2006. Staal expiring contract carries a $8.25 million dollar cap hit.
Although Staal is still perceived as a powerful first line center he does look to be in line for a pay reduction. In 44 games this year he has just 9 goals, and 19 assists. The 28 points is off his career standard, which leaves many wondering just how much this contract situation is affecting his play and mindset.
According to Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer, Staal admitted that his pending free agency has weighted on him. Staal commented, “It’s been more challenging than I thought it would be, but I’m doing my best,” Staal said. “Doing my best to contribute and try and help this team win and play hard. I have a family. There’s things you think about. My brother’s playing here. There are a lot of different things you think about. You try not to worry about it too much, and play, and hopefully we can get on a little bit of a run here and go from there and let it sort itself out. We’ll see what happens.”
With all signs pointing to Staal not resigning, it would benefit the Hurricanes to make a move sooner rather than later. The Montreal Canadiens once expressed interest in the big center, and do have some assets that the Hurricanes may be interested in. Two names that have surfaced have been Alex Galchenyuk (which looks unlikely) and goalie prospect Zach Fucale. The truth is all 30 teams are looking for a strong front line center. The real question is how much are they willing to give up to get him. The Hurricanes have his contact termination hurting his value, and Staal has his age and declining numbers working against him. The question is, will a team making a Stanley Cup run give up the farm for him on trade deadline day?
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