The hockey world buzzed Tuesday with a report that Eric Staal had asked the Carolina Hurricanes for $9 million per year in negotiating his new contract. Renaud Lavoie at www.journaldemontreal.com had the story on Sunday, but the flames were fanned into a rumor inferno in just a couple of days. Lavoie wrote,
“Eric Staal is seeking approximately nine million per season, he will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2016. But the captain of Hurricanes is no fool and knows that it is not the 30 goals that marker it was and it would be surprising if his bosses give him such salary annually. The goalie Cam Ward is also in such a situation and, again, the two sides do not seem close to an agreement.”
(The site is in French and can be translated into English). In any language, if the story is accurate, then Staal has certainly aimed high.
Of course everyone with an opinion began to chime in (as I am doing here) with their thoughts on Staal and the $9 million. The Hockey News gave their input with Jared Clinton essentially saying that Staal is not being realistic:
“The issue then is that Staal, while still a productive veteran, has vastly overestimated his value…He’s not the perpetual all-star he once was, and paying him like he’s still one of the brightest stars in the league would be a risky proposition for anyone, let alone the Hurricanes.”
Comparisons to the game’s elite players like Toews just fall short. Staal has not played in several years in a way that demonstrates that he is in the elite fraternity of today’s NHL. Shooting at a target that has “elite” written all over it will almost assuredly miss its mark.
Another voice chimed in, fairly succinctly. Ellen Carla Piehl wrote at Sportsblog, “I think it is ridiculous that Staal is asking for $9 million per year.” I would not go so far as to say that it is ridiculous. After all, what would any of us do in similar situations, ask for $800,000? Of course not.
Staal has been viewed as an elite player, albeit years ago, and he has won a Stanley Cup, also years ago. Staal cannot be faulted for asking for what he wants or feels he deserves. It is very likely we would do the same.
Mike Halford at NBCSports.com had an interesting take in that he speculated that Staal may benefit from a Steve Stamkos or Anze Kopitar deal:
“But this summer could be Staal’s last chance at a significant payday; assuming Steve Stamkos and Anze Kopitar get locked in, Staal would likely be the prized UFA center up for grabs.”
I can actually see a bit of logic in that scenario, especially when keeping in mind that in professional sports, contracts keep getting larger and longer, often leaving us scratching our heads in amazement.
Halford reminds us that all of this is what is called a negotiation:
For everybody freaking at E. Staal's $9M ask, remember Giordano (reportedly) opened at $9M, too. Landed at $6.75M. It's a negotiation.
— Mike Halford (@HalfordTSN) September 29, 2015
Staal will either be re-signed with a mutually agreeable contract, not re-signed and become an UFA this coming June, or he will be traded. The trade would also have to be mutually agreeable as he has a no-trade clause. One thing however is certain, and that is there will likely be nine million more rumors about Staal before it’s all said and done.
* By the way, I think the ‘Canes are happy to have Noah Hanifin. Check it out here: https://thehockeywriters.com/hurricanes-happy-to-have-hanifin/
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.