Jan 19, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal (12) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal Entering the Biggest Season of his NHL Career

Eric Staal, a man that has been the heart and soul of the Carolina Hurricanes for years, is entering the most important season in his NHL career.

The Carolina Hurricanes have not participated in postseason play since 2009. Eric Staal has been a main fixture on the team every year since then, and he has been the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes since January of 2010.

Eric Staal’s point production has worsened in every full NHL season since the 2010-2011 season. The 29-year-old center is coming off his worst season statistically in the NHL since his rookie season in 2003-2004. Eric Staal tallied 61 points in 79 games last season. He scored 21 goals and had 40 assists. He was also a -13 player.

Since the 2008-2009 season, Eric Staal’s shot total has decreased every year, falling from 372 shots in 2008-2009 to 230 shots in 2013-2014. That excludes the 2013 lockout-shortened season.

Eric Staal has been at the forefront of many trade rumors since the early stages of the 2013-2014 season, and those may continue into the 2014-2015 NHL regular season.

Eric Staal is aware of these rumors. He is also aware that the fans have been disappointed in his play over past seasons. With the team already looking better than last year, Eric Staal will look to return to his old form and start producing points at an elite level for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2014-2015.

The Carolina Hurricanes need to find a way to break their 5-season playoff drought, and Eric Staal needs to be a big part of the team’s offense and leadership core next season in order to do it.

Eric Staal was the 4th highest paid player in the NHL during the 2013-2014 season($9.3 million). Is it reasonable to expect him to be a top-5 player in the league? Maybe not, but he needs to prove that he is worth the money year in and year out.

 

 

 

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