WEDNESDAY’S NHL BUZZ
— Eric Staal entering the final year of his deal wants to resign in Carolina and Hurricanes General Manager Ron Francis wants to continue to build around the Staal brothers. Yet it’s 50/50 whether Staal makes it through the season as a member of the Hurricanes.
The Staal contract situation is a difficult one because of the Hurricanes ownership situation where the budget on a year-to-year basis is often a complete unknown.
“Ron is in a no-win situation,” an NHL executive said of the Staal situation. “The ownership group there is so unpredictable.”
What Francis is most likely struggling with is whether he’s going to have the financial backing two-three years down the road to make resigning Staal worthwhile.
Carolina is a team some feel are trending up and will be improved over last season but playing in the NHL’s toughest division, a significant improvement will be unlikely. The expectation around the league (or at least the hope) is Staal will be dealt at the trade deadline if the Hurricanes are out of contention and both sides likely circle back in the summer on a potential reunion.
Staal is no longer a franchise type player to build around but many contenders will view him as a great complementary player at the deadline. The market for Staal will be big (for teams that can take on his $8.25 million cap hit) and a good fit for Staal could be the Montreal Canadiens months from now.
“Montreal should be all over him [if he becomes available],” an NHL source said. “There’s a fear of that group getting stale from the coach on out. You think need for the Canadiens and [Eric] Staal is that player.”
What is at play here is if the Hurricanes management group determines during this coming season they’re on track and the signs are there of being a consistent playoff contender in a year or two, then the commitment likely happens to keep Staal, if not, it could open a slew of possibilities.
“If they’re a bottom-5 team again, I think reality sinks in and you have to give a lot of thought to moving Jordan and Eric [as a package],” an NHL source said. “Eric no question goes for a first and a good prospect, [but] Jordan changes the whole ball game.”
With the Hurricanes in rebuilding mode, many teams have tried to acquire both Staal brothers. Panthers GM Dale Tallon has had his sights on both for over a year, an NHL source says. A package of Jonathan Huberdeau, plus picks and prospects could get Francis’ attention if he goes into seller mode at somepoint.
BLACKHAWKS GOING PTO ROUTE
— The Chicago Blackhawks are re-tolling this summer by implementing high upside young players on entry level contracts into their lineup and potentially signing established veterans for bargain deals. The Hawks have invited Daniel Paille, Jan Hejda, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tomas Kopecky and Michal Rozsival to training camp. All won’t receive contracts but many in that group can still play. Visnovsky, 39, could be a very intriguing add to the Hawks blueline, if he can stay healthy. Played at a high level with the Islanders last season.
RUMBLINGS ON TLUSTY
— Jiri Tlusty has turned down tryout offers from the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, P Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"