The Carolina Hurricanes have been hot in the NHL rumor mill to start the off-season. One piece of business that was completed was the re-signing of the captain, Jordan Staal. In what seemed almost inevitable, the 6’4 center returned to Raleigh, where he has been for the last 11 years.
Coming off his 10-year contract with a cap hit of $6 million, Staal’s cap hit will be just about cut in half to $2.9 million for the next 4 years. This will bring the captain to age 38 when all is said and done.
Staal has done a lot for this franchise and has been a true professional but having said that this contract was unnecessary and will need to be the start of some changes to the lineup.
Fortunately for the Canes they are in a strong position with the cap but will have several key positions to lock up this off-season. Additionally, players will need extensions in the near future so the cap space will need to be saved for the future.
Paying a declining player, be it your captain, almost $3 million for an extended period of time is not the smart move. If you have come off a few Stanley Cups, I could see the nostalgic view of keeping the player.
Right now, the Canes have struggled to get over the hump and not only win a Stanley Cup but make it to the Finals. A big problem has been the scoring and Staal is the equivalent of a solid fourth-line center but plays on the third line.
If the plan is to add more scoring depth and talent for the third line while shuffling Staal down to the fourth line, it would make more sense.
Staal’s time on the ice has begun to decrease as well. The 34-year-old averaged 16:16 on the ice which is the lowest in his career since his rookie season.
If healthy, 17 goals is a given with Staal but as he gets older he will begin to break down.
After the 2023-24 season, Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce and Jalen Chatfield will all be unrestricted free agents. Martin Necas will become a restricted free agent and expects to see a considerable raise.
Speaking of considerable raises, Seth Jarvis will also become a restricted free agent and currently makes less than a million.
The window to have these talented players together and compete is smaller and smaller so the focus on term and money should be for the skill players staying and acquiring.