Carolina Hurricanes: Revisiting the Full Eric Staal Trade Tree

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RALEIGH, NC – FEBRUARY 19: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates for position on the ice during an NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at PNC Arena on February 19, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Carolina Hurricanes set to face off against the New York Rangers tonight, lets revisit the seemingly never ending trade tree that sent long time captain Eric Staal to Broadway way back in 2016.

With Chicago recently shipping off former Carolina Hurricanes prospect Aleksi Saarela just as quickly as they acquired him to Florida, key pieces from the Eric Staal trade are still on the move many years later. Let us take a look at the trade tree in its entirety, paying close attention to all of the interconnected moving parts.

February 28th, 2016 then General Manager Ron Francis finally bit the bullet and traded long time Hurricanes forward and captain Eric Staal to the New York Rangers in exchange for Finnish forward prospect Aleksi Saarela and two second round picks, one in 2016 and another in 2017.

With Staal months away from becoming an UFA and the Hurricanes once again a lottery team, management saw this as an opportunity to gain some valuable future assets.

Originally thought of as a franchise player when he was drafted second overall in 2003, Staal wasn’t quite the same player he was early in his career after an easily avoidable dirty knee on knee hit in the 2013 World Championships by Alexander Edler. With only 33 points in 63 games at the time of the trade, it was clear that Eric was a player that would benefit from a change in scenery.

Hurricanes Get
Aleksi Saarela
2016 2nd Rounder
2017 2nd Rounder
Rangers Get
Eric Staal

At first glance the return was a bit underwhelming when you look at what Staal meant to the organization. Leading the franchise in pretty much every offensive statistical category since relocation, and only behind Ron Francis when you include the Hartford Whalers years, it was safe to say Carolina was about to enter a new era of Hurricanes Hockey.

Every year there’s a lot of talk about the high prices for rentals at the trade deadline. We often see teams give up decent prospects and first rounders for a player or two that they feel is the missing piece in getting their organization over the hump, helping them finally win the elusive Stanley Cup.

More often than not, what we actually see is the newly acquired players struggle to learn their new systems, have a disappointing playoff run and then finally leave via free agency.

With that in mind many fans were disappointed to hear that, one, Staal wasn’t going to be with the Hurricanes organization any more, and two, we didn’t even manage to pry away a first rounder in the trade.

Like the Jeff Skinner trade in 2018, Eric had a no trade in his contract and if the rumors were indeed true, he was only willing to waive to play with his brother Marc on the Rangers. Since Francis’ options were limited, he had to take what he could get.

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