Eric Staal Staying Put

Eric Staal is staying put…for now. That’s what Mike Maniscalco, host of the Carolina Hurricanes pre and post-game radio shows, is reporting. Maniscalco said,

“I asked Francis if the organization is seeking to trade its captain, he responded, “No, not at this point.”

Francis being Ron Francis, General Manger and Executive Vice President of the Hurricanes. He has admitted that he has had discussions with Staal’s agent Rick Curran. Even so, Maniscalco wrote that, “A trade of Eric Staal is not impossible. It just doesn’t have to happen right now.”

The clause

Everyone knows by now that Staal has a no-trade clause in his contract, and that he is entering the final year of that contract in the upcoming season. Staal said in his exit interview at the end of this past season that he doesn’t know what the future holds, but gave every indication that he is happy in Raleigh.

He’s said that before and at some point we might need to believe that he is sincere. Then again, money is a powerful motivator. But, as recently as this past January, Sportsnet quoted Elliotte Friedman reporting Staal as saying he would not waive the clause. Could that have changed in the past five months?

Imagine that the Toronto Maple Leafs toss a $10 million a year bone at Staal. Would his love for and commitment to staying in Raleigh suddenly waiver? It’s difficult imagining a guy who will be 31 when his contract expires, not believing he still has a lot to bring to the ice, and feeling he still deserves superstar money. But, as of now, both Francis and Staal are indicating that a trade is not imminent.

Waiting is the hardest part

Of course the other side of the equation is timing. If Staal plays out the last year of his contract, he runs the risk of losing value if he or the Hurricanes have another season like the one that just ended. Staal’s 23-goal, 54-point season was not one, if duplicated,  that will land him big money.

He’d be better off to do a deal now while the thought is that he is still a top-level NHL

(Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)
Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal (12) and New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast (19) (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

commodity at the forward position. Of course if he goes out and scores 40 goals this season then who knows? But, is that really likely?

Anthony Scultore at wrote earlier this week that Staal coming to the New York Rangers is just wishful thinking on the part of some New York Rangers fans. In fact it seems to have become an annual rite of spring. Scultore wrote,

“Oh Look! The NHL Draft is near and Eric Staal’s name is back out there to be traded. Oh! And here we are again with Rangers fans wanting to bring him to New York.”

But, the strongest point Scultore makes is, “It isn’t 2010 anymore and his skills are in a steep decline at the age of 30.”

Scultore repeats the same thing that myself and everyone else in the hockey universe is saying,

“Eric Staal also has a no trade clause, which he would likely waive in order to go to a contender. That may happen this summer or at the trade deadline should GM Ron Francis be unable to work out an extension for considerably less.”

We all know about the clause and we are all fairly certain that Francis is not going to be able to offer Staal the kind of money that he may want. It will come down to this: What does Staal really want? What can he realistically get? What can Francis get in return?

The real player

Rick Curran is Staal’s agent. Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote on Friday that Curran met with Ron Francis Wednesday to discuss not only Staal, but his other clients – Jordan Staal, Cam Ward, and Jeff Skinner.

Curran has a significant stable of Hurricanes, and DeCock pointed out that they are intertwined:

“No matter what happens it’s impossible to separate their fates. No part of this discussion can be conducted in isolation.”

The most notable example of this is the impact on Jordan Staal if his brother Eric were to no longer be in Carolina. Would Jordan want to stay a Hurricane?

Curran is obviously the real player in the Staal situation.

I won’t go that far, but Francis does have a lot to think about when talking with Curran about any of his four Hurricanes clients. But Francis is a pro, and knows that there will be ramifications in any trade scenarios and contract negotiations he faces. As one fan said to me in a text this morning, “It’s his full-time job to know.” Yes it is, and he seems to be handling it with the same professionalism that made him great on the ice.

As long as Eric Staal is the centerpiece of the Carolina Hurricanes there will be rumors of his being traded. He might be, if the deal is right for him and for the team as judged by Francis. But for now, Staal is staying put.

Mark Shiver is a staff writer for The Hockey Writers  credentialed with the Carolina Hurricanes. You can follow him on Twitter @markshiver