After many thought he was finished, Eric Staal has been back to his usual self in the 2016-2017 campaign. The longtime Hurricanes captain has been on a mission this season, looking to accomplish something he hasn’t done in over a decade.
Eric Staal started off as a second overall pick in a highly-talented 2003 draft. Since his debut in 2003, Staal appeared in 98% of the Hurricanes’ games (690 of 704). He missed a total of 14 games, 12 due to injury and two due to a funeral. He is one of the most durable players in the NHL and was one of the best and most consistent players for Carolina for more than 10 seasons.
On February 28th 2016, Eric Staal’s stint with Hurricanes ended as he was traded to the New-York Rangers for Aleksi Saarela and two second-round picks in 2016 and 2017. He finished with a total of 742 points (312 goals) and one Stanley Cup with the Canes.
Staal was brought into New-York in order to add some firepower to their Cup contending team. A big-bodied center was a great addition to a team like the Rangers. However, everything seemed to go downhill for Staal, he picked up a measly six points in 20 games and was no-show for them in the playoffs. Many had written off Staal, claiming he was finished.
Since signing a reasonable three-year deal worth 10.5 million with the Minnesota Wild, Eric Staal has been a threat. With 39 points in 42 games, he has added a crucial scoring element that the Wild desperately needed. He has 15 goals thus far and is on pace for his best goal and point totals since 2009-2010. With the addition of Bruce Boudreau, who has always been a successful regular season coach, it’s not a surprise that the Wild are doing so good and players like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu have picked up their play. The Wild have quietly become a solid playoff contender, Eric Staal’s strong leadership qualities and experience will certainly be an asset for the team, who are looking to make it past the second round for the first time since 2003.
Brandon Murphy – @2murphy8