PITTSBURGH — Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford has said since the season ended he badly wanted to acquire a top-tier forward to play with Canes captain Eric Staal.
And Rutherford did Friday -- brother Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After some last-minute wheeling and dealing, Rutherford completed the deal just before the NHL Entry Draft began at the Pens' Consol Energy Center. The price was steep, costing the Canes center Brandon Sutter and defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin, plus Carolina's first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year's draft.
"When you're acquiring an elite player you have to give a lot for it," Rutherford said. "And we did. We paid Pittsburgh a good price.
"We love Brandon Sutter. It was really hard to let him go. He's been a very good player for us and has a very good future ahead of him. ... But when you get into a deal like this you usually give up something you don't want to give."
Staal, 23, is due to become an unrestricted free agent after next season. The Pens on Thursday offered Staal a 10-year contract extension worth a reported $60 million, but Staal turned down the offer.
"I didn't want to trade him and I said that," Pens general manager Ray Shero said Friday. "My goal was to sign him to a contract to keep him with the Penguins."
Rutherford said he had no contact Friday with either Staal brother. Jordan Staal was married on Friday in Thunder Bay, Ont.
"I called Jordan and of course he didn't answer," Rutherford said, smiling. "I told him the news and told him to call me back in a few days."
Rutherford said negotiations with Jordan Staal on a new contract would begin in July, joking, "We'll figure out a way to keep him.".
Jordan Staal, like Eric, has his name on the Stanley Cup. He's big at 6-4 and 220 pounds, he's strong in the defensive end and also has offensive potential.
Despite missing 20 games this past season, Staal had career highs in assists (25) and points (50) while scoring 25 goals. He had six goals and three assists in the Pens' six-game playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
In his six NHL seasons, Staal has scored 120 goals and notched 128 assists, with a plus/minus rating of plus-53 in 431 regular-season games. The Pens won the Cup in 2009.
Rutherford said it's possible the two Staals could play on the same line -- with Eric Staal moving from center to the wing. Eric Staal played the wing for Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Sutter, 23, played all 82 games each of the past two seasons. He was an alternate captain and arguably the Canes' best defensive forward.
"Brandon was the key to the deal for us," Shero said. "Brian Dumoulin was a key addition as well, but an NHL-ready Brandon Sutter is a proven player who's young. You love the character and what he brings."
Dumoulin, 20, won two NCAA titles with Boston College before signing a three-year entry level contract with Carolina in April.
Rutherford said he first talked with Shero just after the season, when Shero mentioned publicly that he may not be able to re-sign Staal while also trying to arrange new contracts for star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
"We just felt that Jordan's at the point in his career that it's time for him to take the next step in his development and it made sense with the Carolina deal," Shero said. "It was a fair deal for both parties."
Rutherford agreed, calling called the deal fair.
"This improves our team," Rutherford said. "You name me two or three other center icemen that are like Jordan Staal. You just can't find them."