27-Year-Old Center – Carolina Hurricanes
Jordan Staal Contract Information:
Signed a 10-year extension with Carolina on July 1, 2012. He will earn $60 million over the course of the deal.
Staal scored a power-play goal and added an assist to go along with six shots in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Panthers.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Letís face it -- when Staal was traded from the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes three seasons ago, very few (if any) observers expected him to start putting up career numbers. And so far? No surprises. In his second season with the ĎCanes, Staal managed 40 points in 82 games, the second-lowest per-game point total of his career. Even more troubling, he finished the year with just a single assist in his last 10 games. All in all, there are really only two positive things you can say about Staalís season last season, and neither of them are particularly fantasy relevant. First, he improved his defensive zone play, raising his plus-minus rating to plus-2 from minus-18 the year before. Second, he managed to stay healthy for yet another full season -- heís now played a full slate of games in five of the past seven campaigns. Fantasy owners will certainly be looking for more to brag about this season, but donít hold your breath. At this point, the only real upside is that Staal might start clicking with some of the younger talent on the team, like Jeff Skinner or sophomore Elias Lindholm. If that were to happen, Staal has a shot at another 50-plus point season, similar to what he was producing with the Pens.
In his first season with Carolina following his departure from Pittsburgh the season before, Jordan Staal managed a respectable 21 points in 48 games, however his minus-18 rating was second-worst on the team. He should open the upcoming season firmly entrenched as the 'Canes' second-line center, alongside Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. Jordan Staal may not be playing with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin anymore, but he's carving out a nice little niche for himself in Carolina. He makes for a decent mid-round fantasy selection in most formats.
When Staal turned down a lucrative, 10-year offer from the Penguins in June, essentially forcing a trade to Carolina, it became apparent that he wanted to skate alongside his brother, Eric. Jordan posted a career-high 50 points, needing just 62 games to do so while the 25 goals were the highest mark since the 29 he tallied as a rookie six seasons earlier. He's long been in the shadow of two of the leagues top centers in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and many have wondered what Jordan Staal could do when given a top-six role. During his career, Staal has certainly been one of the top third-line centers in the league, and has filled in nicely when Crosby and Malkin were injured. Staal gets his chance at top forward minutes this season in Carolina and could be in for a strong season and there can be no doubt that Jordan would stake a huge portion of his career on the chances to develop some serious chemistry with Eric. If the Thunder Bay natives are that confident in the situation, shouldn't you be as well?
Staal made his 2010-11 debut in the Winter Classic last year after suffering a foot infection and a broken wrist. When he returned, the big center scored 11 goals and picked up 19 helpers in 42 contests, representing his highest scoring rate in five NHL seasons. There remains debate as to whether Staal is a top-six player or a strong No. 3 center at this stage of his career, but the Pens may experiment with Staal alongside Evgeni Malkin in 2011-12. The team wanted to pair up the two last year, but injuries to both players prevented such a development. It's hard to believe that Staal is still only 22 years of age, but that youthfulness could mean there is still room for improvement.
Staal rounds out the list of immensely talented centers that play for Pittsburgh. Husky and strong, the 21-year-old has only missed one game in four seasons, though the two surgeries he underwent on his right foot in May and June caused an infection that will force him out for the month of October. For that reason, he could prove to be a good value if he drops too far in drafts and pools.
Staal signed a four-year, $16 million contract extension in January that immediately became a lightening rod for controversy. On one hand, how could a team justify paying big bucks to a third-line center, no matter how good he is? On the other hand, supporters offered that Staal -- all 20 years of him -- still has plenty room to grow. Staal, who collected a career-best 49 points (22, 27) in 82 games, never came into his own in front of the net on power plays, but there's still time for him to improve that aspect of his game. He also won just 44 percent of face-offs, but that was actually an improvement over 2007-08 (42.2 percent). Before his career is through, Staal is likely to reach the 65-75 point range, but for now the team is happy with his ability to frustrate opposing stars with his long reach as a third-liner. The upside for a 40-goal season is there, but it would be a mistake to go into a fantasy pool expecting it.
By most metrics, Staal had a terrible sophomore season. He dropped in goals (29 to 12) and went from seven short-handed goals to zero. But that makes him a classic buy-low candidate. Still just 20 years of age, Staal has thoughts on joining one of the top two lines as a winger for Crosby or Malkin. If he can do that or find time on the top power play, then his points could approach the 50-plus plateau. Will it happen? Check back for training camp updates on how Pittsburgh intends to deploy the Staal brother.
Thanks to Malkin's dislocated shoulder in the preseason last year, Staal got more of an extended opportunity to show what he could do in camp than most 17 year olds -- and boy, did he take advantage. Blessed with an extremely long reach, Staal was initially used to kill penalties -- an unusual responsibility for a rookie forward -- and flourished with an NHL-high seven short-handed goals. He also led the club with a plus-16 rating and poured in 29 goals overall. What makes his accomplishments all the more impressive is the fact that Staal averaged under 15 minutes of ice time (14:56), with most of his shifts coming on second and third units. Fourteen Pittsburgh skaters averaged more time on the power play than did Staal, who checked in with one minute and 12 seconds of PP time. As a result, he collected only four scores on the man-advantage, a mark that likely will improve. He had a minor off-ice situation over the summer, but it appears as if the legal issue won't become a distraction. Staal will look to become a more complete player in 2007-08 -- he won just 37.1 percent of face-offs as a rookie. It'd be surprising to see his scoring numbers drastically improve this year, but then again, his entire NHL career has been a surprise.
Staal, the overall No. 2 pick in the 2006 draft, is the third brother in the line of Staals to be drafted by the NHL. The 18-year-old centerman has a great shot at playing for the Penguins right away. GM Ray Shero has said that he'll let Staal's play at camp decide whether he makes the team. It's doubtful the power forward will put up big numbers -- he totaled just 68 points in 68 contests for Peterborough in the offensive-minded OHL. Still, Staal makes for great keeper league material.
Staal is the third of four brothers destined for stardom in the NHL. Jordan is already 6'4" and projects as a power forward. He's a smart player who's a strong skater, silky passer and slick shooter. But from a fantasy perspective, he'll take several years to grow into his body and his role. When he does, he'll be very, very good.