Should The Leafs Pursue Eric Staal?

According to noted Tyler Bozak lookalike and Dave Nonis relative Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs may be interested in acquiring Carolina Hurricanes centre Eric Staal. The question, of course, is would this be a good idea?

The Player

Eric Staal, of course, is a household name in the National Hockey League. From Thunder Bay, Ontario, Staal is 29 year old centre. He’s been in the league for about ten years now, and in 771 games, has put up an impressive 690 points. His most impressive season came in 2005/06, where he scored 45 goals and added 55 assists, and then continued that momentum into the playoffs, winning his first an and only Stanley Cup.

Staal has been a consistent 70 point centre over the past several years, with 21 goal, 40 assist campaign last season being the exception. He was a member of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, and was on three different World Championship Rosters. Staal’s best year saw him come 4th in Hart Trophy voting. He’s received votes for the Lady Byng and Selke trophys in the past as well, but hasn’t really been in the conversation.

Staal has been a positive relative possession player in six of seven recorded seasons, six of which he was at least 6% above Carolina’s curve. His outlier year was the shortened lockout season. Out of 365 forwards to play at least 2500 even strength minutes in the past 7 years, he has the 45th highest points per 60 minutes. Less impressive, however, is that he ranks eight of nine players players to play 7500+ minutes, though it’s a very elite class, and the fact that he even has that total to his credit speaks to the trust his team has in him.

The Role

Odds are, he would replace Tyler Bozak as the Leafs’ top centre. He’d kind of have to, wouldn’t he?

But What’s The Problem?

Of course, anything like this comes with a catch. Yes, Eric Staal is a top flight, top class first line centre that instantly  makes the first line better. But it there’s a huge issue, and that’s cost, in two ways.

First off, Staal’s cap hit is a very high $8.25 million for two more years. Odds are he won’t require much of a raise after that, but the Leafs need to send back at least $7.3 million back to the Hurricanes to even remotely make this a discussion. This saves the Canes more real money; Staal’s actual dollars are over $9 million for both his years, but they still might look to shed salary if they write this year off. 

This leads to the asset cost as well; you’d imagine Bozak goes back, simply because his role disappears. After that, you need to add at least $3 million more in players – a $3.3 million dollar Cody Franson would likely fit the bill. But together, these two probably don’t come close to what Carolina would want for their team in the long term; neither are grizzled vets, but they also aren’t “youth movement” young. Draft picks and prospects would start to come into the question, and at that point you have to ask yourself “Is it worth it?”.

Well, is it? I like the idea of adding Staal, but I feel like this could be a messy negotiation that wouldn’t end up being worth it. But I’d like to hear your opinions; leave your thoughts below.

  • BubbaLou

    NO. Toronto don’t be dumb. please… Kadri and/or gardener? there are better options to get a good return on those players if you realll do want to move them, don’t go for a guy on the opposite side of 30… this is Jumbo Joe all over again.

  • BubbaLou

    “Should the Leafs pursue Eric Staal?” Absolutely not, yet. Wait for him to be unrestricted, or pursue other options. Carolina has a stupid enough GM to way over-value a guy like Eric Staal just because he is their captain.

  • Bertly83

    Bozak, Gardiner, 2015 1st.

    Then do this:

    Staal, Panik, 2016 1st to Tampa for Stamkos.



    JVR Stamkos Kessel
    Lupul Kadri Winnik
    Komarov Santorelli Clarkson
    Ashton Holland Frattin

    Phaneuf Franson
    Rielly Robidas
    Percy Polak

    see, not so different, yet much more awesome right?

  • Bertly83

    I don’t think I can say No any stronger. When Darren Dreger suggested Kadri + Gardiner + a 1st round pick, I spilled my beer. Any of those players, straight up? Maybe. Packaged? You’re out of your mind.

    That would just be so Toronto, wouldn’t it – We have some young talents, eh? How fast can we trade them, and our prospects too, into a formerly-great player, now in his 30’s?

    Never mind that his idea, Kadri- Gardiner – 1st for Staal, puts us over the cap, so it’s flawed from the start. Great research Dregs. Next time please suggest Clarkson + 1st for Staal, can we get that rumor going instead?

    • Bertly83

      Sorry – “About to be 30’s” player.

      It comes down to cost-benefit in the end. If you “get” Eric Staal on a platter that’s one thing, if you have to lose your shirt to do it that’s another.

      Personally, I would rather keep 1st round picks and especially young players with growing room.

  • Wilrus

    Only way any package is even remotely an option for an aging star which gives us nothing better then Kadri today or even the future is if Clarkson goes. Only. Possible. Way.

    • jasken

      What..? You are overvaluing the Leaf players and undervaluing Eric Staal.

      In any case any reasonable trade for Eric Staal would be terrible for this team. We’re not ready to compete for the cup so there’s no reason to give up the young talent and future picks yet.

      The Leafs probably have a fair chance on acquiring Eric Staal through free agency anyways.

  • Wilrus

    I know this is your 900th post, but Nono and Dregs aren’t siblings. They are familial, they’re Cousins, but to be Siblings, they’d have to be Brothers or Sisters!

  • ushaped

    Nope. Aside from the fact Staal is on record as a Leaf hater, he’s got a lot mileage and long past the time he was a game breaker.

    If Carolina really want to get rid of him, they should eat some of his salary. In no way should the Leafs act like they need him because if he’s so great, why are the ‘Canes terrible? The Leafs don’t need him and it’s ludicrous to give up anything much less players with an unknown ceiling like Kadri and Gardiner.

  • DaveDaytona

    Kadri’s best years versus Staal’s? No contest. But Kadri is 24 and Staal is 29, meaning Kadri is entering his prime, and Staal is just about past his. Last year, in his first full season, Kadri had 20 goals. You know how many more Staal had? One.
    No thanks.

  • DaveDaytona

    One must always consider the chemistry of a team.
    Kessel and Bozak want to play together.

    In fact Staal would be best suited for the Clarkson line -he would be perfect there
    but who would we give up?

    My best offer would be Kadri, Gardiner and next years first.

    Komorov Staal and Clarkson
    Bozak Holland Lupul

    The cap would be close
    but it’s a lot to give up IMO.

    But it improves the size of our team down the middle.

      • jasken

        The fact of the matter is that centers with size
        are impossible to get, so the price you pay is at a premium.

        I would of course want him to sign an extention.

        All the successful playoff teams have size down the middle. Without any size at center ice
        I dont think you can get far in the playoffs.
        You just wont match up against the top teams.

        If you have a better solution I’m all ears…..

        easy to criticize,
        but sometime you have to sacrifice for the greater good.

        • TGT23

          You’re talking about trading two players with huge ceilings, who could easily become top line/top pairing players… To get an 8.5m player who is injury prone, and regressing, who at best slots in at a 2nd Line C but also, as you say, a 3rd Line C.

          If that is what we have to give in order to get that. I’d rather go without.

          • TGT23

            With Staal on a line with Komorov & Clarkson
            what you have is the Kessel line 1A
            and Staal line 1b
            and the Lupul line is the 2nd line.

            You cant trade Bozak as it is obvious that he
            is who Kessel wants to play with so your risking a potential problem by trading him.

            In fact I prefer Gardiner to Reilly as he has a bigger offensive upside IMO. During the playoffs against the Bruins he was one Leaf defenseman
            who found another gear.-I would hate to trade him.

            Kadri has intangibles as well as having a great offensive upside (for example drawing penalties)

            But playoffs against teams like Kings, Sharks or Chicago is a war and even though Kadri & Gardier have a bigger upside during the regular
            season -Staal would be a better asset during the playoffs.

            The Leafs have more defensive prospects, Nylander and Holland have IMO the same potential as Kadri-but we have NO SIZE DOWN THE MIDDLE on our top six……..or in the pipeline
            on the Marlies

            Stall isn’t perfect but he would be a great asset the Leafs need if they ever want to go far in the playoffs.

          • TGT23

            He isn’t worth the price. Not even close. Really. And you don’t trade three major assets for a guy you might slot as a 3rd liner. The Komo-Santa-Clarkson line is effective because they are physical and seperating that line, your beat line arguably, not smart.

            I’d much rather not lose two potential star players for a guy whose best years are behind him. Not worth it. Especially when the team is too flawed to win even with him. Catch him in FA in 2 years, get him for cheaper if you can. Or let the young guys develop. I’d rather have Kadri and Lupul for Nylander to play with and Gardiner as a Top pairing D-man than Staal.

          • TGT23

            Yes I understand your point,
            and Carolina might prefer these young assets as well-this is why the trade is a possibility.

            The 3 players I mentioned are an over payment and his salary is very high -but if you think this is the piece that gets the Leafs over the “hump”
            if would be worth it.
            As well he would provide leadership-something everyone has said the Leafs need….

            I think the Leafs are closer than people give them credit for . In 2013 they lost in game seven to the Bruins who were finalists that year.
            And as I have mentioned Kadri & Gardiner are
            replaceable assets. A player like Stall is impossible to acquire.

            There is parody in the league now…..and it is true the trade might be a mistake and we might get stuck on the wrong side of a Schenn…..
            for JVR trade.
            but on the other hand it just might be the piece that changes things for the better .

            The other thing I might mention is that because of his high cap hit, we might be able to get him
            at a lower price.

            But the point is probably mute as Carolina will most likely wont even want to trade him.

  • jasken

    Bozak who aside from his 32 points in 82 games has 157 points in the other 218 games not to bad. Kadri has 115 points in 181 games again not to bad. Now throw in the Gardiner and future with either and common sense goes out the window. Then you got to look at whether or not Staal would even come to Toronto all he has to do is see how players are treated here when they struggle he will laugh say yeah right I dont think so.

    I love the Leafs but seriously the media and fanbase need to change if they want players to play here. Management would only be risky if they made a trade for him but staal would be a complete idiot to agree to it.

  • jasken

    Trade Bozie while he is hot, and trade clarkson when he becomes more ‘hot’. That will be 9m off the cap and no more clarkson – bad signing in toronto. Then we can try in another year or so try and get back clarkson with retained salary =P

    • KH44

      Who is going to take Clarkson? Honestly, who possibly takes the worst contract since Dipietro? Name the team, and the absolute garbabe you’d have to take back. How about this, the Flames give you Dennis Wideman and Derrek Engeland, you get all the salary. The Leafs then give the Flames Clarkson, a solid youngster (Kadri, Nylander, Rielly) and probably a first. And you’d have to take back some salary on Clarkson, if possible on an increasing scale(I’m not sure how this would work with the cba). Say, nothing the first year, and increasing up to half for the last 3 years. That is an ugly ass contract.

  • jasken

    Trade Bozie while he is hot, and trade clarkson when he becomes more ‘hot’. That will be 9m off the cap and no more clarkson – bad signing in toronto. Then we can try in another year or so try and get back clarkson with retained salary =P

  • TGT23

    Here is a question for everyone. Lets assume Dreger was close to correct – Kadri OR Gardiner, Bozak OR Franson depending which of the former they take and a 1st. Nonis tells Ron Francis I’ll do the trade if you also take Clarkson.

    Thoughts? Would you do this trade now?

    • KH44

      Carolina wouldn’t touch it. Clarkson’s contract is poison. Kadri, Gardiner, Clarkson and a 1st for Eric Staal? Maybe a prospect as well? Maybe, if they also got 50% cap relief for clarkson.

  • KH44

    Since the 1st round pick this year is going to be top 5, hell, they have a chance at the mcdavid, eichel, hafelin trio, they should probably hold onto the pick. Also, just a rule of thumb, if the deal doesn’t hurt when you type it out and actually look at it, its not a plausible deal. Franson and Bozak? Seriously doubt it.

  • Jerkball

    A healthy stall would be deadly on the top line. Bozak and Gardnier is doable maybe include 2rd pick. Their not gonna value franson as much but might take him including 1st instead of gardnier. I would much prefer that however either trade we win, I think.

  • Jerkball

    who’s dumb enough to take edmonton?? name the team: for a decent dollar value: calgary (they love their gritty truculence), edmonton (needs veteran leadership and grit/size/experience, winnipeg (if they would actually make a move), colorado is plain stupid (parenteau for briere & old iginla lol), sharks have been pretty stupid as of late with john scott/thornton situation but not that stupid (still have hope)… lots of teams are stupid enough. i only wish holmgren was still in charge of the flyers so we could rob them once again. columbus is stupid as hell too (gaborik/carter deals were a joke). carolina has no forwards left either with all of these injuries so anything is possible!

  • Jerkball

    I think the biggest deal I’d do is something like:
    Bozak, Franson, 1st and filler salary.

    If we give up Kadri, I would not add a 1st. And If we give up gardiner I would say:

    Gardiner Bozak and a 2nd rounder or less

    Gardiner and Kadri no picks