PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 27: Jordan Staal #11 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jaroslav Spacek #8 of the Carolina Hurricanes battle for a puck in the corner during the game at Consol Energy Center on December 27, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
As many caniacs know by now, Jim Rutherford pulled off a deal to bring Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes. The price to do so was steep, costing the team the #8 overall pick, which Pittsburgh used to draft Derrick Pouliot, as well as Brandon Sutter and Brian Dumoulin. Some, including me, have said that the price to acquire Jordan was too high; that Jim Rutherford overpaid for a player set to become a free agent in a little over a year. While that may be true, I've got three good reasons to like this deal and help put overpayment talk in the past.
First, the Canes got, without a doubt, the best player in this trade. Brandon Sutter is a very good player, and captain material, but he simply does not have the same skill that Jordan Staal does. Jordan Staal is a legitimate top 6 player in the NHL, and a corner stone center that can be a major piece for a championship team. Brandon Sutter is a very good complimentary piece and can play a large on ice and leadership role. The prospects, Dumoulin and Pouliot, have high potential, but are by no means a sure thing and neither is at this point in time anywhere near the territory of Jordan Staal. The team got a highly talented top six player, something that they have been lacking for years. This is a good thing.
Reasons two and three after the jump.
The second reason I like the Jordan Staal trade is that by acquiring Jordan the Canes have significantly increased the likelihood that Marc Staal ends up on the Hurricanes roster and significantly reduced the chances they lose Eric Staal to free agency. It was reported yesterday at the time of the trade that two other teams were interested in Jordan Staal. Darren Pang revealed via twitter later in the evening that one of those teams was the New York Rangers. There's no doubt that Jordan Staal would be an upgrade over Artem Anisimov as the second line center. The Rangers would also be a great landing spot for Jordan as brother Marc is already on the roster. Could the Rangers have pulled off the trade? They lacked a top draft pick, but Chris Kreider and/or Michael Del Zotto could easily have been the center pieces for a trade and the cost would be less than acquiring Rick Nash, a player the Rangers have been pursuing for months.
The other team that you have to believe was all over Jordan Staal was the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's well known that Brian Burke is actively looking for a first line center to play with Phil Kessel, a role Jordan would fill nicely. Jordan also has a certain truculence about him, a characteristic that Burke especially prizes. Could Toronto have put a package together to pry Jordan out of Pittsburgh? Certainly. The #5 pick, combined with either Nazim Kadri or Luke Schenn would likely be the major pieces. While Toronto doesn't have the family connection that the Canes and Rangers have, they do have deep pockets and the benefit of being the Staal's home province team. Not to mention the star power that the Leafs could provide Jordan, especially if his pairing with Phil Kessel proved fruitful.
Perhaps worse than those other teams acquiring Jordan and signing him long term would be what it means for the future of Eric Staal. If Jordan went to the Rangers, with Marc already on the roster, or the Leafs, with the money, fame, and home town connection, the career path of Eric would have changed instantaneously. It's been established that the Staal brothers would like to play together at some point in their career. Jordan signing in Toronto or New York would change the likely final stop in the career of Eric Staal. Furthermore it would put Jim Rutherford and the Canes in the unfortunate position of having to trade a franchise center with a full no trade clause or risk loosing him for nothing on the open market after the 2015-2016 season. (FYI, Marc Staal will be an unrestricted free agent a year earlier, after the 2014-0215 season).
Long story short, don't think of it as just acquiring Jordan Staal but also as retaining Eric for the rest of his career and giving the Canes a great shot to sign Marc in a three seasons.
The third and final reason to love the trade? Well, you better or else. A young, top 6 forward has just been acquired for a good sum. A forward who just so happens to be the brother of the teams franchise center. Like it or not the Carolina Hurricanes fortunes will rise and fall with the Staal family for the better part of the next decade if not longer. Now that business and family have been mixed there will be no quick changes from this course. Any course change will require the GM to move both Jordan and Eric, and possibly Marc in a few years, as a package deal. Given the no trade clauses already in place and likely to be in place, that's going to be difficult if not impossible.
Sure, Philly was able to move both Richards and Carter to LA, but that ignores the interim step Jeff Carter took through Columbus. No such option will be open to the Canes if they wish to part from the Staals. This isn't like the Tomas Kaberle experiment that JR was able to extricate himself from after only a few months. The Staal Train is the path going forward and will be for quite some time.
This is where Pascal's Wager comes in. If you want to remain a fan of the team it's likely best to jump in now with both feet. It's got a lot better outcome than hanging around and hating the Staals for years.