With the NHL trade deadline just a few days away, Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said Wednesday he has not been asked to waive the no-trade clause in his contract.
But that could change, Staal said. And, he added, he may not object to a trade should general manager Ron Francis make that request before Monday’s deadline.
“We’ll see what happens,” Staal said. “For me, personally, there’s been talk in certain areas. Ultimately, we’ll see what management wants to do and what they see is best for this organization and this team, and we’ll go from there.
“Obviously it depends on the situation and where it would be. But I think we’ve got a pretty good relationship where we can talk it out and figure it out. I’m not going to be trying to hold anything back, but it’s got to be the right situation for myself, as well.”
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Staal, 31, is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Canes captain offers experience and versatility in his ability to play center or the wing, and could be the missing piece for a team intent on making a run at the Stanley Cup this season.
Among the teams being mentioned in possible trade scuttlebutt are the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators. While leaving the Canes would mean leaving his brother, Jordan, it also could mean joining his other NHL-playing brother, defenseman Marc, if he were traded to the Rangers.
Ultimately, we’ll see what management wants to do and what they see is best for this organization and this team, and we’ll go from there.
Canes’ captain Eric Staal on possible trade
Peter Laviolette, who coached the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup, is the Preds coach, which could ease that transition. The Panthers, like the Canes, have a number of young players and emerging stars, and could use another veteran presence in the locker room and on the ice.
Which, in turn, is the rub.
Staal likes this Hurricanes team and its young players. He likes playing with his brother, the team’s MVP this season.
“We’d like to stay together and play together,” Jordan Staal said Wednesday. “We enjoy it and both love it here. But we’ll see how it goes. It is a business and we understand that.”
The Canes (28-23-10) are on the cusp of playoff position in the Eastern Conference. After a 3-1 victory Tuesday over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canes were two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and a wild-card playoff spot. With defenseman Justin Faulk having returned from a lower-body injury, they have a full complement of players heading into the stretch run.
“We’re real close,” Eric Staal said. “We’re hard to play against. When we’re playing hard and with enough tempo and pace and skating, we don’t give up a lot.
“It’s been fun to see some of these young guys grow and develop and get better, and there’s definitely better days (ahead). There’s no question this team can push, no matter what happens the next couple of days, for a playoff spot.”
The Canes lead the NHL in fewest shots allowed per game, faceoff percentage and fewest penalty minutes per game. Their penalty killing has been strong. They’re a good puck-possession team and goalie Cam Ward is 7-1-3 in his past 11 starts.
The Canes’ scoring has been erratic, as has the power play. While Jordan Staal’s line has been steadily productive, Canes coach Bill Peters still is searching for better fits with the other lines.
At Wednesday’s practice, Eric Staal was being used at left wing on Victor Rask’s line opposite Elias Lindholm. Riley Nash centered a line with Jeff Skinner and Kris Versteeg, and Jay McClement was at center with Chris Terry and Phil Di Giuseppe.
Why the changes?
“Shake it up,” Peters said. “Looked like we got stale there a little bit.”
Peters said those may not be the lines when the Canes face the Toronto Maple Leafs in a road game Thursday at Air Canada Centre. Carolina then has home games Friday against the Boston Bruins and Sunday against the St. Louis Blues leading up to the trade deadline.
Staal isn’t the only name being mentioned in potential trades. Other pending unrestricted free agents include Ward, Versteeg and defenseman John-Michael Liles.
Asked Wednesday if he expected to have the same team this time next week, Peters said, “No. I don’t think there’s one team in the league that will be the same.”