DeCock: Hurricanes pay stiff price for second Staal

ldecock@newsobserver.comJune 23, 2012 

— If we’ve learned anything about the Carolina Hurricanes, it’s that Jim Rutherford always gets his man, one way or another.

He waited a decade to land Brian Boucher and Cory Stillman, among others, but he wasn’t willing to wait a year to get Jordan Staal for nothing.

Jordan Staal would have been a free agent in one year and nine days. To move up that clock, the Hurricanes gave up the No. 8 pick in the draft, Brandon Sutter and defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin.

So the Hurricanes paid a hefty ransom Friday night to add a second Staal brother, one who is unquestionably an elite player but doesn’t directly answer the question they went into the summer asking: Who is going to play on the wing with Eric Staal?

With Friday’s trade, the answer to that question may be Eric Staal, who may move outside to make room for his brother at No. 1 center, although Rutherford said that decision would fall to Kirk Muller.

The Hurricanes had heretofore been unwilling to part with Sutter, or Justin Faulk, or Jeff Skinner, but Rutherford finally accepted Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero’s demand for Sutter, Carolina’s first-round pick in 2007, late Friday afternoon. To seal the deal, he had to give up Dumoulin, a second-round pick in 2009, as well.

“(Shero) was talking to two other teams at the same time,” Rutherford said. “I just felt that when you have a chance to get a player like this, you don’t wait around. Somebody else could have acquired him, or they could have talked him into staying between now and next July, so that’s the reason we moved on it and made the deal we did.”

And that’s the flip side: When you’re a team like the Hurricanes, and you have the chance to get a 23-year-old star like Jordan Staal, you pull the trigger now and worry about the consequences later.

Especially when it was an off-ice power play by Staal that made the trade possible.

Staal’s rejection Thursday of a 10-year contract extension worth $60 million made it all but certain the Penguins would trade him, while making it clear the only team he would negotiate a new contract with right now is the Hurricanes.

When’s the last time a player pulled the strings to force a trade to the Hurricanes?

The Hurricanes may not be done yet, either. They still have top prospect Ryan Murphy to offer and may have money to spend in free agency if they want to keep trying to bring in a winger for Eric and go Staal-Staal down the middle. What a coup that would be for the Hurricanes.

Rutherford said he asked owner Peter Karmanos for new budgetary guidelines given the trade and the need to sign Jordan Staal to an extension, but left the door open to another move.

“It’s something that we’ll still take a look at,” Rutherford said. “As far as where our budget is at, I’ve got to take a look at the revisions to see how much more money we may have. … Prices are high because there’s a lot of teams involved looking at these players, but that’s not to say we couldn’t make another trade here. As hard as it is to make a trade, I think that it would be easier to acquire a player than it would be one of these top-level free agents.”

The Hurricanes made a huge talent upgrade when they added a second Staal on Friday, albeit at a stiff price. They may not be done yet. They shouldn’t be.

DeCock: luke.decock@newsobserver.com, (919) 829-8947, Twitter: @LukeDeCock

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