So far, Eric Staal has seen what he wanted to see this summer from the Carolina Hurricanes.
They added one elite player he knows well, his brother Jordan, went after some top free agents and pursued a trade for Rick Nash.
So they didnt land Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, and walked away from negotiations for Nash in the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets lofty demands. Staal, who enters his third full season as captain, is encouraged by the Hurricanes newfound ambition -- as long as theyre not done.
For me, just the fact that were even in the mix, that we threw offers out there to these elite guys, is exciting, Staal said from Canada, where hes avoiding the heat. Sometimes you hear the same teams every year doing the same things. For us to be involved and make a pitch, it was big. We arent far off.
Weve got some very good pieces in place, and if we can add, like theyre saying, another elite forward, it will definitely put us in the mix among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Its exciting. I hope theyll continue to push -- and not just grab anybody, but the right person for our group.
Shane Doans name is the latest to surface, with his agent confirming Monday that the Hurricanes are one of the teams that have approached the free-agent forward. Doans stated preference is to remain with the Phoenix Coyotes, where he serves as captain, but hes making contingency plans given the uncertainty over the franchises future.
Even at 35, the gritty winger would be a great fit with the Hurricanes, but theyve gone after other big names this summer without success. Staal said he sent Parise a text message on July 1, and heard back a few days later, but never got a chance to make any kind of pitch on behalf of the Hurricanes. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford also talked about taking Staal and coach Kirk Muller to any face-to-face meetings, although none materialized.
Staal was certainly willing, though. As the team parted company at the end of the season, the fifth without a playoff appearance in the six seasons since the team won the Stanley Cup, Staal expressed a willingness to do anything to help the Hurricanes add more elite talent. To date, hes had the most success within his own family. As a first step, its nothing to sneeze at.
Probably the most exciting part about it is, not only is he family and my brother, but hes a very good player whos still young and has great things ahead of him, Staal said. To get him and sign him long-term, its exciting for the organization and for me as a player on the team. The fact that were brothers and were at the age where we get to play together and compete night in, night out, and go through these experiences together is pretty awesome.
Since Jordans new contract runs through 2023, and Erics deal expires in 2016, it would appear the younger Staal brother cost the older one some leverage when it comes time to re-negotiate with the Hurricanes.
Eric chuckled for a moment, then got the last laugh.
Maybe he did, Staal said. You never know. Well get four good years. Maybe after four years, well be sick of each other.
DeCock: firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 829-8947, Twitter: @LukeDeCock