There are a number of teams with really good centers.
There are a number of teams who need good right wings.
Nearly every team is trying to keep their young lions in the minors or junior until the expansion draft is a done deal.
Having watched Eric Staal’s career start circling the drain about three years ago, one has to wonder what the cause is:
- cumulative injuries
- playing (in Carolina) with a mostly AHL lineup
- playing (in New York) under a coach who can’t or won’t make adjustments at any point after training camp
It is hard to say, but assuming he’s healthy and motivated, the best thing he could do would be to take a short money deal for one year to prove himself and maybe get another crack at the playoffs. On paper, barring the last couple seasons (and without the crippling price tag) he’s still a very attractive commodity. He’s big, he’s still got speed, he’s willing to hit, his shot is still something no goalie looks forward to having come at their head, and he’s free of a the types of injuries that make front offices panic.
Pushing his agent for a one year deal in a city with two or even three different style centers for him to play wing with would be the best situation. Assuming the Penguins had space Malkin, Crosby, and Staal on one team would be enough to make most defenses break before the midway point. So where are some spots that might be ideal for Staal?
- San Jose: The Sharks were in the finals for the first time in franchise history, adding a big body to play with on either of the top two lines would be an enormous boon.
- Arizona: The Coyotes missed the playoffs last year but have some incredibly talented youngsters on the roster. Domi, Duclair, and Staal could be dominant line. For a more veteran unit welding him to Vermette and Hanzal could be a very reliable two way line with more than a little offensive punch.
- Boston: With Bergeron, Krejci, and Spooner as the three top options at center, if Staal can’t regain his form here, he just needs to hang the skates up. The three play different styles and tempos and one would almost have to fit with one of them.
- Washington: Here Staal might just be a strong contender for a center slot in addition to his chances to play right wing opposite Ovechkin. Both Staal and Ovi are headed towards the end of their peak years, and the two together is something I don’t think many would want to defend.
- Nashville: Like Washington this might be a place for him to spend time at center and make big contributions. Laviolette would have to love the idea of Johansen and Staal dishing to Forsberg and Neal on two separate lines, or for that matter the four together as a high powered man advantage.
Wherever he sets his sights, he shouldn’t be aiming any higher than four million unless he’s just looking for an excuse to head to the KHL.