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“I want to finish my career off here”: Hurricanes captain committed to returning

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal is now a UFA, but he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game One Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

After the end of last season, there were questions surrounding Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal and whether or not he’d be giving it another run not only in Carolina but in the NHL.

“I’m going to ride out this contract,” Staal had said about the prospects of signing an extension at the end of last season. “Eleven years is a long time here and it’s been special. I’m going to ride it out next year and hopefully finish with a bang and go from there.”

The Hurricanes captain had a lot of hockey mileage under his belt, especially with being a physical player who plays consistently tough minutes and with his name already etched on the Stanley Cup, it’s understandable if hanging the skates up was a consideration.

However, now that his 10-year deal — an extension signed upon his arrival in Raleigh in 2012 — has officially expired, Staal is a UFA for the first time in his career, but despite that, he’s committed to his team.

“I don’t plan on going anywhere,” Staal said in his end-of-season exit interview. “I’ve been here long enough and I have no reason to leave. I’m sure we’ll find a way to get a deal done now that we’re finished here and hopefully we’ll check off some unfinished business.”

Staal has long been the backbone of this Carolina Hurricanes team, now in the longest active playoff streak in franchise history, and having made the Conference Final twice in the last five years.

He’s a key piece not only in the locker room, but on the ice, being Carolina’s top shutdown centerman able to matchup strongly against any of the league’s top players.

“At the end of last year, I just kind of always mentally wanted to play out the end of the contract and be relevant still,” Staal said. “I’m happy I’m still relevant, playing some good hockey and contributing. Now, just moving forward, I just want to be here and I want to be a part of this group. I want to finish my career off here.”

It was another strong year for Staal who put up 17 goals and 34 points in the regular season and 2 goals and 8 points in the postseason in an exclusively defensive-minded role. He’s shown that he still has what it takes physically to keep up with the league’s best too.

Staal is coming off of a 10-year, $60 million contract, but his next deal will almost certainly come in for less money and a lot less term.

“We’ll see how that goes,” Staal said. “I’m not sure on the numbers or the details. Whatever kind of helps the team moving forward with the cap and stuff like that, we’ll find something that works for both parties and we’ll move on to bigger and better things here soon.”

For a player in the twilight of his career, Staal knows every year he plays is going to be a crucial one and that understanding will play a big role in the contract negotiations. An amount that takes care of his family still in perpetuity, but also an amount that will allow the team to be more competitive.

Both sides want it and so a deal will be done. You can guarantee that.

“We’ve got a great group of guys, a great team and it’s just been a pleasure to be a leader here and just be a part of this group. I’m planning on staying for sure.”