Eric Staal used to be one of the elite goal-scoring centers in the game. He has scored 38 or more goals three times in his career.
Carolina still pays him like a star, with a contract running through 2015 with an annual salary cap hit of $8.25 million.
He ranks among the biggest NHL disappointments of this season, with just 20 points scored in 38 games and a minus-22 rating. He has no points in his last six games.
After delivering 29 points on the power play last season, he has produced just five points with the man advantage this season.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford insists he will not move Staal or another of his franchise cornerstones, goaltender Cam Ward. But the trade rumors won’t subside as long as the Canes and Staal are struggling.
“This is a great organization,” Staal told the Toronto Sun. “I’ve won a Stanley Cup here. I’ve started a family here. I’ve got some good people to work with. Obviously it’s been a tough season for not only myself but for everyone here. Any time that is the case there are rumors that start and everything that goes along with it. But for me, I’m just going to continue to work, continue to try to improve as a player and know that there are better days ahead.”