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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Penguins Trade Jordan Staal to Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the 8th Pick in this Year’s Entry Draft (and the Pens chose Derrick Pouliot)

During the days prior to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Pens General Manager Ray Shero offered Jordan Staal a 10-year contract. Staal, who has one year left in his contract before becoming an UFA, turned-down the deal and said that he wanted to wait. The unwillingness to negotiate by Staal, coupled with the fact that Shero knew that Staal was hoping one day to play on the same team as his brother Eric, indicated to Shero that the best move was to trade Staal as soon as possible (and by the Entry Draft if possible) so that he could get a far better return. Staal had been the best Penguin in the playoffs and also had his most productive season ever, and therefore his value was sky high. It was certainly tough for Shero to lose a player who appears to have reached elite status, but on a business level the trade had to happen. Shero first shopped Staal around to some other teams besides Carolina (out of bitterness or for leverage, or maybe a combination of both); and, then he talked to the Hurricanes, Jim Rutherford, and they managed to bang-out a deal just 15 minutes prior to the start of the Entry Draft. For the Hurricanes, obtaining Jordan Staal was a HUGE windfall as long as Staal decides that he truly wants to be in Carolina after all. He was married on the same day as the trade so I am sure that he and his wife will be doing some planning. If I was in his position, I would go ahead and sign a long-term deal and then get settled in Carolina as soon as possible.

Okay, let’s talk about the details of the trade and how it will affect both teams.

In return for Jordan Staal, the Pens obtained Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the 8th Pick in this Year’s Entry Draft (and the Pens chose Derrick Pouliot). Like Staal, Brandon Sutter is 23 years old, and also like Staal, he is an excellent defensive forward. Sutter can kill penalties, had three shorthanded goals last year, is a great shot-blocker, and his plus-minus was the best on the Hurricanes in 2010-11 (plus-13). Sutter is also a great value at 2 million dollars a year until 2013-14, at which time he will be a RFA—so the Pens will be able to keep him. In the deal, the Pens also obtained defenseman Brian Dumoulin. Carolina drafted Dumoulin 51st overall in the 2009 Entry Draft and he has played the last two years for the Boston College Eagles. He is a solid defenseman who can put some points on the board as well as defend in his own end. The third part of the package for the Pens was the 8th pick in this year’s Entry Draft, and they chose defenseman Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot has spent the last three years in the WHL with Portland and has improved significantly each year. He is already a talented skater and had 59 points last year. Shero is likely hoping that he will develop into another Kris Letang, and that is very possible.

Trade Result
I believe that Brandon Sutter is going to be able to step-up and fill a good chunk of the gap left by Jordan Staal. Both of the young defensemen look very promising and could be solid NHL players. Therefore, Shero did extremely well in this trade (including saving a lot of money) considering the position that he was in. Now it is up to the players to make him look even better.

In Jordan Staal, the Hurricanes will be getting the Pens best performer in the 2012 playoffs. In six playoff games, Stall had six goals and three assists for a team-leading nine points, and he was plus-2. Staal is improving every year (25 goals and 25 assists in 2011-12) and will turn 24 just before the start of the 2012-13 season. He is 6' 4'' and 220 lbs and one of the best two-way players in the league. In my opinion, he is a greater asset than his brother Eric, who is talented offensively but who needs more work on the defensive part of the game (stats confirming that in a moment).  

Of course, the Hurricanes are going to have to dig deep into their bank account if they want to sign Jordan Staal to a long-term deal. It would likely be a seven year deal worth 50 to 56 million. Eric Staal has a cap hit of a whopping 8.25 million a year until 2015-16 at which time he will be an UFA (and 31 years old). He is making a lot more than he is worth, and especially when you consider the fact that his plus-minus this past year was the worst on the Hurricanes at minus-20! And, in 2010-11 he was minus-10. On the other hand, Jordan Staal is a consistent plus player besides the 2007-08 campaign (2006-07 plus-16, 2007-08 minus-5, 2008-09 plus-5, 2009-10 plus-19, 2010-11 plus-7, 2011-12 plus-11). It is true that the team that one is on makes some difference, however, great players shape their own destiny and also make their teammates better so I never give too much praise for “superstars” who have minus figures—never!     

Trade Result
The Hurricanes made the right decision in going for Staal but everything depends on whether they can lock him in long-term. He will bring the fans into the building and give the Hurricanes the chance to win one or more Stanley Cups to add to the one they won in 2006. By the way, Eric Staal was minus-8 that year which was second worse on the team for plus-minus. I predict that the Hurricanes will make the playoffs this coming year, and I will extend the prediction to include how they fair in the playoffs later on.  

Same Line?
There is talk that the Hurricanes should play Jordan and Eric on the same line. I disagree with this strategy except for having them both on the power-play, at least sometimes (in crucial situations). Most of the time, I would divide the two forces and have two tough lines that other teams have to defend against. I would have Jordan Staal on the first line and Eric on the second. This should reduce the number of goals scored while Eric is on the ice.

Third Staal?
A third Staal, Jared, is in the Hurricane system but he apparently needs a lot of improvement with his skating and overall skills. If he works hard enough he can earn a chance to play in the NHL with his brothers. He is 21 years old so he still has some time to develop.

The fourth brother, Marc, is a defenseman with the Rangers, of course. Eric hit him hard back in a game on Feb. 22, 2011 and Marc suffered a concussion and missed almost a full year. As you know, Marc returned to play in the 2012 playoffs. Regarding the hit, Marc was trying to gain control of the puck along the boards in his own end and he lowered his head and kept it down too long and Eric nailed him. Marc was in a compromised position and Eric should have taken something off the hit but he didn’t. You can view the hit by clicking the following link.

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TJ Stanley