NHL experts have long believed Jordan Staal could develop into a true No. 1 center is he could escape the shadow of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh.
Now he gets that chance. The Penguins reunited him with big brother Eric Staal by dealing him to the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade that helped both teams.
Staal was a year removed from restricted free agency. The Penguins tried to lock him in with a long-term deal, but he rejected a six-year offer.
Faced with the prospect with losing Staal to free agency next summer, Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero made the best of a difficult situation by getting a good No. 3 center, Brandon Sutter, as part of the trade package from Carolina.
The Penguins also got defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin and Carolina's first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year's draft. Pittsburgh used that pick to select defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
“When you're acquiring an elite player you have to give a lot for it,” Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told the Charlotte News Observer. “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.”
Jordan Staal, 23, has never scored more than 50 points in a NHL season. But he brings size, skill and a sturdy two way game to Carolina.
He could form a formidable 1-2 punch down the middle with his brother Eric – or he could team with his brother on the same line. Eric spent some time playing the wing last season.
Jordan demonstrated his offensive upside during this spring’s playoffs, scoring six goals and adding three assists in six games against the Flyers.