Carolina Hurricanes Mock Trades: Eric Staal


During this tumultuous time for the Carolina Hurricanes, it may take a blockbuster trade by Ron Francis to reinvigorate the team, the front office, and the fan base.  What could be more of a blockbuster than completing a trade for the captain?

Drafted 2nd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Hurricanes, Eric Staal has provided a steady source of leadership and scoring ever since he cracked the NHL roster at the tender age of 19.  He has one Stanley Cup with the Canes and took over the captainship from Rod Brind’Amour following his retirement.  Over his 11-year career, Staal has amassed 706 points (296 G, 410 A) over 797 games played.  He currently has 7 goals and 11 assists (18 pts) on the season.

It would be quite difficult to trade a Hurricanes staple like Staal, but his lackluster play as a first-line center and captain has built up frustrations in the fan base and supposedly has sparked a fire under Ron Francis to explore the trade market.  The elder Staal brother would provide an immediate upgrade to any team willing to meet Carolina’s demands if a trade were to be completed.

I do want to bring up a personal sticking point, however.  I do believe that the Canes would enjoy a fantastic return if we were to trade the captain and that this return would assist in a rebuild of sorts.  We would have the opportunity to get younger and to restock our prospect pool via players and picks.  Think about this, though.  If we do trade Eric, I could see that ruining our chances of signing his brother Marc in the offseason.  Marc Staal is a proven NHL defenseman with size that would come in and join the top defensive pairing assuming Andrej Sekera is traded or chooses not to resign.  Marc would be intrigued by the chance to play in the NHL with two of his brothers (Eric and Jordan) and be in the same system with the third (Jared).  Without Sekera, we would likely have the cash assets available to sign Marc long-term as well.  Granted, it is not definite that Marc would travel south to play with the Canes.  If Eric is traded, this could sway Marc to sign elsewhere; somewhere with money and a better chance to win the Cup.  This is purely speculation, but a trade could cause issues.  So say we trade both Sekera and E. Staal.  We will have enough money to make a play in free agency and get better with the assets gained in the trades.  We most likely would not get Marc Staal, but we would be younger and could fill holes.  If we trade Sekera and not E. Staal, we could fill Sekera’s spot with Marc Staal and make less of a splash in free agency.  To make this decision worth it, I believe that Ron Francis would have to get an amazing return via trade; enough of a return to back up trading the captain and possibly losing the chance to sign his brother.  It’s an interesting conundrum.  Thoughts?

Nonetheless, let’s say Francis chooses to trade the captain.  Here are a few possible scenarios.  Keep in mind Staal has a no-trade clause.

Proposal #1:

Proposal #2:

Proposal #3:

Rumors have tied Eric Staal to the Toronto Maple Leafs all season.  The Leafs are in dire need of a player of his size and caliber to play on the first line with the likes of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.  They also have the cap space and the prospects required to pull off this level of trade.  It has also been said that Staal would waive his no-trade clause (NTC) to move to Toronto.  This type of move would almost ensure a trip to the playoffs for the Leafs and greatly help the Canes for future runs.  Some recent rumors have mentioned that the Leafs would most likely have to give up the likes of centers Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri along with young defenseman Jake Gardiner and a 1st round pick.  I would think that the Leafs covet Kadri slightly more than the 28-year old Bozak and that in order to receive these players, the Canes would have to add a prospect and pick.  The Leafs would add another pick and a prospect as well, given Staal’s overall value.  Some of these extra pieces (Shugg, Leivo, picks) could be moved around to make it work.  A replacement center, Bozak or Kadri, a defenseman, Gardiner, and a first round pick would be necessary for the Canes.  This move is the most likely.

Moving Staal to Nashville would not be likely given a suspected lack of desire on Staal’s part to move to Nashville as well as David Poile’s tight grasp on his organization’s prospects and picks.  But, let’s assume both parties agree to the move.  Poile, the Predators’ GM, would have to give up either Filip Forsberg or Calle Jarnkrok.  Forsberg is nearly untouchable, so I chose to include Jarnkrok.  He has average size, but shows great promise.  Fiala is another highly-rated prospect that the Canes might require.  I included Ekholm as he isn’t as highly rated, but carries a NHL-level skill set and good size.  Once again, Ron Francis would require a first round pick in any Eric Staal deal.  Robertson could bolster the Preds’ AHL affiliate and the extra pick sweetens the pot for the tight-fisted Poile.  This move is highly unlikely, but interesting to think about.

I always like to include Edmonton in trade scenarios.  They are also in the midst of a rebuild and have prospects and picks that the Canes could easily take on.  Edmonton is seemingly always near the top of the draft and the results have been awfully cyclical.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a former first round pick, has somewhat fallen out of favor in Edmonton and could be replaced for the right price.  He would immediately join the first line in Carolina and would provide more youth in the top 6.  Eric Staal could waive his NTC to move back to Canada and be part of a young, skilled Oilers team.  Staal is much more proven than Nugent-Hopkins, so he would fetch a higher price.  Justin Schultz would basically be swapped for Ryan Murphy.  Murphy, the undersized offensive defenseman who has been spending most of his time in Charlotte, would fit in well in Edmonton.  Schultz’s size combined with his higher-than-average offensive skills would be a welcome addition to the Canes.  Joensuu has also fallen out of favor in Edmonton and was waived.  His size, speed, and small contract could help our bottom six.  All three of the players are NHL-ready.  Again, the Canes would need a first round pick.  In this case, this pick carries great value as it would easily be in the top 5, barring a miraculous surge during the remainder of the season.  That value forced me to add the extra pick from the Canes to balance the scales.  This is more likely than Nashville, but less likely than Toronto.

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If a trade involving Eric Staal actually happens, which I actually doubt (at least until the offseason), it would most likely be to Toronto.  Staal would supposedly waive his NTC and the Canes would get a high level return for the future.  Both sides would get some welcome change that could spark playoff runs in the future.  A trade to any other team would be a surprise to me, but you never know with rebuilding teams like the Canes.  I would hate to see the captain leave, but if it builds a brighter future for the Canes, I would welcome it.