(Brian beat me to the punch with his Eric Staal article but since I had much of this already written, I thought I would weigh in anyway.)
It's been a very quiet "offseason" in Carolina, but apparently things could be heating up soon.
As Brian reported earlier, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN fame, Ron Francis will be having a face-to-face meeting with agent Rick Curran within the next week. Curran not only represents Eric Staal, but also represents Jordan Staal, Cam Ward, and Jeff Skinner as well. (I wonder if he'd be my agent too?)
It would appear from the outside that negotiations are not going very well if the parties concerned cannot come to terms over the phone, but perhaps face-to-face negotiations are not that unusual.
Either way, it does look like there are some type of negotiations going on and Ron Francis is indeed trying to re-sign the Carolina Captain. Otherwise, what is there to meet about?
Curran is going to have to earn his commission this time around.
Let's face it, Staal, Staal, and Ward pretty much got the "super-trifecta" of contracts for their last deals. Number one, top dollar paid compared to their peers, number two, long term deals, and number three, no-trade clauses to boot. What more was there to negotiate? It seems unlikely that the agent was actually asking for much more than what Ward and the Staal brothers received last time around.
With the Captain coming off the worst season of his career since his rookie campaign, Francis is not likely to roll over like his predecessor did in the past. (Although to be fair to Rutherford, it's not his fault those player's production dropped off like they did.)
The Staal camp is probably looking for a deal like Jason Spezza got in Dallas, (4-years at $7.5 million per), if not more. But keep in mind that it was a new team that made that deal and it was after a rebound performance by the center, (albeit short as it was, 18 points in first 20 games). There is no way that Ottawa would have offered that.
Lebrun states in his article that the club needs to make a decision before the season starts or risk losing Staal for nothing at season end next year. But I disagree.
Allowing me to play "armchair GM" for just a moment, I think Francis should wait, (unless someone offers you a trade you simply cannot refuse). Let the Captain start the season next fall without a contract extension and see what happens.
Many times, (coincidence or not), players seem to play better when a new contract is looming and perhaps the extra incentive will motivate this player to perform even better than normal.
Waiting also gives the club more flexibility next season. If the Hurricanes have another poor campaign, they can trade Staal at the trade deadline and acquire another first round pick at the minimum, which would give them three first rounders in next summer's draft.
If the season is a good one, they can always resume contract talks at anytime before his contract expires. There is no rush to get this done as far as I can see. If they re-sign Eric and then bomb out again next season, then what? It's harder to trade a multi-year contract at the trade deadline than an expiring one so you lose out on a great opportunity to gain assets.
I would not assume that Jordan would want out if Eric leaves but that is always a possibility. Regardless, I would not allow that to affect contract negotiations with "Staal the Elder."
In any event, whether they re-sign him this summer or next season, I would not include another "no-trade or no-movement" option in the contract. Just say no to the "no-trade." Those handcuff a general manager.