Five Potential Trade Candidates in the NHL

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Mar 17, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward

Eric Staal

(12) skates with puck against the Ottawa Senators at PNC Arena. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Trade Candidates: Eric Staal

We may as well start with one of the bigger names that will be rumored to be on the move throughout the season.  Staal put up the worst numbers of his career last season (23 goals, 31 assists) since his rookie year.  It seems that the perennial all-star and 70-point center is long gone, and for someone who will turn 31 in October, it’s likely he’ll settle in the next phase of his career as a quality number two centerman.

Staal is in the last year of a contract that comes with a $8,250,000 cap hit.  Staal is at or near the top of every major statistical category for the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers’ franchise.  He helped the organization win its only Stanley Cup back in 2006 and has been the team’s captain since 2010.  Despite the decline in play, Staal is a Hurricanes’ icon, so it isn’t as simple as moving a player in the walk-year of his contract here.

It’s also worth noting that Staal carries a full no-trade clause, so he isn’t going anywhere unless he obliges.  But that doesn’t mean general manager Ron Francis should just throw his hands up and do nothing with Staal either.  The organization has been one of the most non-descript teams the past few seasons and has failed to make the playoffs the past six seasons.  They have some young pieces in the organizational pipeline (Haydn Fleury and Noah Hanifin jump to mind), but the team could use more young pieces to revitalize the franchise.  Even with those players the team is still likely several years away from competing in a difficult Metropolitan Division.

Does Staal want to continue playing for a team that has little chance of making noise in the near future?  Sure, brother Jordan Staal is still around, but is all that losing worth it?  For the Hurricanes, there is no way they should just let the face of the franchise walk away for nothing at the end of the season.  Call up some teams out West with cap space (Nashville, Anaheim) and see if they can build a package involving some young prospects and draft picks.

It’s been a good run for Eric Staal in Carolina, but all good things must come to an end.

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