According to noted Tyler Bozak lookalike and Dave Nonis relative Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs may be interested in acquiring Carolina Hurricanes centre Eric Staal. The question, of course, is would this be a good idea?
Eric Staal, of course, is a household name in the National Hockey League. From Thunder Bay, Ontario, Staal is 29 year old centre. He’s been in the league for about ten years now, and in 771 games, has put up an impressive 690 points. His most impressive season came in 2005/06, where he scored 45 goals and added 55 assists, and then continued that momentum into the playoffs, winning his first an and only Stanley Cup.
Staal has been a consistent 70 point centre over the past several years, with 21 goal, 40 assist campaign last season being the exception. He was a member of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, and was on three different World Championship Rosters. Staal’s best year saw him come 4th in Hart Trophy voting. He’s received votes for the Lady Byng and Selke trophys in the past as well, but hasn’t really been in the conversation.
Staal has been a positive relative possession player in six of seven recorded seasons, six of which he was at least 6% above Carolina’s curve. His outlier year was the shortened lockout season. Out of 365 forwards to play at least 2500 even strength minutes in the past 7 years, he has the 45th highest points per 60 minutes. Less impressive, however, is that he ranks eight of nine players players to play 7500+ minutes, though it’s a very elite class, and the fact that he even has that total to his credit speaks to the trust his team has in him.
Odds are, he would replace Tyler Bozak as the Leafs’ top centre. He’d kind of have to, wouldn’t he?
But What’s The Problem?
Of course, anything like this comes with a catch. Yes, Eric Staal is a top flight, top class first line centre that instantly makes the first line better. But it there’s a huge issue, and that’s cost, in two ways.
First off, Staal’s cap hit is a very high $8.25 million for two more years. Odds are he won’t require much of a raise after that, but the Leafs need to send back at least $7.3 million back to the Hurricanes to even remotely make this a discussion. This saves the Canes more real money; Staal’s actual dollars are over $9 million for both his years, but they still might look to shed salary if they write this year off.
This leads to the asset cost as well; you’d imagine Bozak goes back, simply because his role disappears. After that, you need to add at least $3 million more in players – a $3.3 million dollar Cody Franson would likely fit the bill. But together, these two probably don’t come close to what Carolina would want for their team in the long term; neither are grizzled vets, but they also aren’t “youth movement” young. Draft picks and prospects would start to come into the question, and at that point you have to ask yourself “Is it worth it?”.
Well, is it? I like the idea of adding Staal, but I feel like this could be a messy negotiation that wouldn’t end up being worth it. But I’d like to hear your opinions; leave your thoughts below.