The Carolina Hurricanes have traded center Eric Staal to the New York Rangers for two second picks and prospect Aleksi Saarela.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes also reportedly agreed to pick up half of Staal’s remaining salary. The picks are a second in 2016 and in 2017.
Several weeks of speculation linking Staal to the Rangers has come to pass. If you’re a Hurricanes fan, this isn’t much of a return for the long-time face of your franchise. Then again, perhaps it’s indicative of how much Staal’s stock has dropped in recent years. His no-movement clause significantly limited where the Hurricanes could ship him, which also would’ve affected the return.
Considering the Hurricanes are transitioning toward a younger roster, Staal apparently didn’t fit into their long-term plans. GM Ron Francis got the best return he could, rather than allow Staal to walk away via free agency for nothing. There’s a chance he could return to the Hurricanes via free agency this summer, but that seems unlikely.
As for the Rangers, this is a gamble on their part, though ultimately not as costly as it could’ve been. They needed a boost to their scoring lines if they hope to stage a run to the Stanley Cup this season. Still, they’ve given up more futures for a playoff quick fix, one whose production’s been in steady decline in recent years.
Some observers believe Staal can regain his offensive mojo on a deeper club. We’ll find out soon enough if that’s the case. If he does, the Rangers’ Stanley Cup chances receive a significant boost. If he doesn’t, the Blueshirts will have squandered future assets on wishful thinking.