The Carolina Hurricanes made two roster moves today. The first, and most expected saw the Canes send Riley Nash to Charlotte (Tim Wallace was sent down as well only to be re-called later in the day). The second was perhaps more surprising. The Carolina Hurricanes recalled Jared Staal, the youngest brother of Eric and Jordan Staal. The timing is quite fortuitous as Marc Staal will be in Raleigh with the Rangers on Thursday night allowing for all four Staal brothers to take the ice at the same time during warm ups (Marc is still working through his eye injury and is not expected to play Thursday night).
Recalling Jared Staal at this point in the season is certainly and interesting choice. Let's run through some of the possible reasons why the Canes may have opted to re-call him.
Audition for a bottom 6 forward spot for the 2013-14 Carolina Hurricanes
No one is going to confuse Jared Staal for any of his other brothers, at least when it comes to NHL talent. Jared's stat line is at best unremarkable. That said, Jared does possess a big body and some talent. While he won't be counted on to score at the NHL level the Canes may look for Jared to be a big body to play a simple puck possession game and be a physical presence on the fourth line. Given the cap constraints and the limited options that Jared will have it's very reasonable that Jared would agree to a league minimum deal ($550K) next year, which would be a savings of $175K over Kevin Westgarth.
Legitimate response to an injury on the NHL roster
No injuries have as yet been announced coming out of Tuesday's game. That said, the sending down of Tim Wallace followed by his recall later in the day does seem to indicate that at least some one on the NHL roster is injured. While Jared certainly wouldn't be the first choice for a call up in normal circumstances the Canes are in an anything but normal position from an organizational stand point. The big league team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The AHL squad has clinched a playoff position and is pushing for home ice advantage. To maintain chemistry down in Charlotte and to give the Checkers the best chance at winning games the Canes opted to recall Jared Staal. This leaves the Checkers with their big guns while still allowing the Canes to field a full roster against the Rangers.
PR stunt designed to sell tickets
It's no secret that attendance at Carolina Hurricanes games has been declining of late. While the tickets sold number still seems to remain high there are certainly more fans dressed as empty seats as Chuck Kaiton would say. Having all four Staal brothers on the ice at one time, if only for warm ups, is sure to bring out a number of people, and maybe help get them to the game earlier. Watching three brothers suit up in the same game is certainly a unique situation, and something not seen in the NHL since the Statsny clan laced up the skates for the Quebec Nordiques in the 1980's. Given that Jared is in the final year of his entry level deal this could be the last time he skates up for the organization outside of the Calder Cup playoffs. Why not get something out of the player in the form of more revenue for a game if he's not going to be around much longer?
Team management is wasting an opportunity
As noted above Jared Staal's stat line is not exactly noteworthy. His work ethic is good, but not great like say a Blanchard. The hockey reasons for Jared being on the roster, let alone playing with Jordan according to Chip Alexander on twitter (@ice_chip), are hard to come by. Team management is treating the game Thursday night as a throw away, opting to bring up a player with a family connection as opposed to trying to make an evaluation that could help the team down the road. The purpose of the organization is to win a Stanley Cup. Everything else is secondary. Why then bring up Jared Staal as opposed to a Zach Dalpe? Dalpe has shown some ability to play at the NHL level this season. Why not see if Dalpe can play on the second line, thus helping the Canes achieve the offensive depth they will need to be competitive next year as opposed to wasting a game on a player with just a last name?
What's the true reason for recalling Jared Staal to the NHL? Probably some combination of all the above. While I doubt very seriously that Jared is being auditioned for a role on the team next year there's no doubt that he has the big body that JR has said he wants and he will be cheap, something the team will need with the cap re-set next year. I also doubt that the team considers this a throw away game, but it's also impossible to ignore how different JR's comments about his team differed from other seasons where in a worse position in the standings he tried to focus on the positive as opposed to bluntly stating that he was "wrong" about this team. Sound off in out poll below and if you've got a better idea add it to the comments.