Carolina Hurricanes: Revisiting the Full Eric Staal Trade Tree

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)
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) /
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TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 18: Carolina Hurricanes center Aleksi Saarela (15) skates in the second period of the NHL preseason game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning on September 18, 2018, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 18: Carolina Hurricanes center Aleksi Saarela (15) skates in the second period of the NHL preseason game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning on September 18, 2018, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Saarela on the Move Again

Getting back to Alexsi Saarela, the once key piece in the original Eric Staal trade. Saarela would be on the move to, of course, the Chicago Blackhawks, see I told you their fingerprints are all over this trade tree. In a surprising move for both the fans and one of the players involved, Saarela was sent packing along with Calvin de Haan to the Hawks in exchange for Gustav Forsling and Anton Forsberg.

The deal was a huge head scratcher at the time for some more so for what the Hurricanes gave up rather than what they got in return, two players currently playing in the AHL. With de Haan signing a four year deal as a UFA with the Canes less than a calendar year before the trade it seemed odd to move on from him so quickly.

The other question mark was why include Saarela, someone you just traded one of the best players in your entire franchise history for not too long ago? With 55 goals in his last two seasons with Charlotte and one of the best shots in the entire American Hockey League it seemed like the 22 year old was someone you’d only want move in a bigger deal for someone you can slot in your team’s top six.

As it turns out he wasn’t happy with his role in the Hurricanes organization and demanded a trade. Depending on what you read, he may or may not have asked to be traded specially to the Blackhawks,  but either way some fans felt that we were giving up on a player of his caliber too early.

Flash forward to training camp, Saarela was quickly cut and sent to the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. With just a single assist in five games, his time with Chicago’s organization had already came to an end. A few weeks ago, October 23rd, the Hawks would trade him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Ian McCoshen. Saarela would directly report to the Panthers minor team in Springfield. Saarela’s trade to Florida currently concludes all the player movement from the Staal deal.

Although Saarela was a big disappointment and one of the second rounders, Luke Martin, is looking less and less likely to ever have an impact in Carolina, the Hurricanes still are winners in the deal. While most NHL trades seem individualized and separate from one another, when you look closer you can see that they sometimes are connected.

In Staal’s case, one of the assets allowed Hurricanes’ management to get a bigger and better piece when they combined it with another. Yes moving Staal didn’t directly result in getting Teuvo, but it certainly led to making the deal possible. When it’s all said and done, moves like this are a prime example of good asset management, something we’ve started to see more of lately in Carolina.