Versatile center Eric Staal has signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild which will pay him $3.5 million per season. Staal spent the first 12 years of his career with the Carolina Hurricanes before being traded to the New York Rangers this past season in return for two 2nd round picks and Finnish center prospect Aleksi Saarela.
Eric Staal…3 years. 3.5 mil per….to the Wild.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) July 1, 2016
Eric Staal Signs With Minnesota Wild
Due to Staal’s age and contract netting him $57.75 million over 7 years, the Hurricanes decided to trade their team captain and fan favorite in return for potential building blocks for the future. This forward-facing agenda saw him traded at the deadline, where he waived his No Move Clause in order to team up with his younger brother Marc Staal in the Big Apple. Despite his age, however, Staal has been adamant about his desire for a bigger role than he was given in the Rangers’ playoff failure this past season, and clearly has something to prove.
Drafted second overall in 2003, Staal’s career in Carolina began immediately and his undeniable talents launched him to star status just as quickly. In his rookie year, he accumulated a total of 31 points from 11 goals and 20 assists. After the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, he returned to the ice and put forth a dazzling 100 points in the regular season, proceeding to score another 28 playoff points on his way to winning the 2006 Stanley Cup with the ‘Canes. Apart from the 2003-2004 and 2015-16 seasons, Staal continued to put up more than 50 points per season, with a total of 781 to date in his NHL career.
However, the 2015-2016 season proved to be a rare down year for Staal, and he generated a mere 33 points before being traded to New York. His totals were no more impressive upon his arrival, with his final tallies showing 6 points in 20 regular season games and no postseason points as the Rangers again bowed out of the playoffs. In this span of time, his time on ice dropped significantly as well, from nearly 20 minutes per night to just above 16. Stuck behind centers Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard, Staal never quite found his role as a top-6 forward, and was even shuffled around to the left wing.
He signed his last, and biggest, deal with the Hurricanes in September of 2008. Set to begin in 2009, this new contract offered him $57.75 million over 7 years and was structured as a slow step-up from a base salary of $6 million per year to last season’s $9.25 million. Trading Staal cleared $8.25 million in cap space for the Hurricanes in 2016 and left him as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Motivated and undoubtedly skilled, Staal looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2015-2016 campaign and return to his scoring ways with the Wild.
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 13: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes the second period save on Eric Staal #12 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)