The Carolina Hurricanes are 6-5-4 early on in the season and look fine (This is really the best word to describe them, as the terms good or bad would be hyperbolic). They are right behind the Ottawa Senators for most overtime losses in the league and it looks as if it will be another season barely hanging onto a playoff hope.
Now, there have been a lot of improvements thus far and certainly still a lot of blunders, but there are several things to be happy about so far this season. Sebastian Aho is still without a goal and Scott Darling has looked a little shaky in net, prompting a lot of criticism on coach Bill Peters.
You can blame some of our losses on Aho or Darling, but you know what the real problem is? Jordan Staal.
Staal is on track for another underwhelming season and looks undeserving of the money we pay him yet again. Bumbling around on the ice, he looks nowhere near like the veteran leader he should be and more like a soggy towel that just can’t seem to find a dryer.
Through 15 games, Staal has bagged 15 goals, three assists, and nine points. In his last five, he has logged three goals. If you keep up with Staal in any way, you would know this is a pretty good look for him early on. He is not the main goal producer for his team, but it is good to see this kind of push from him only 15 games in.
I also want to add in that in Carolina’s impressive win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, in which the center scored two goals, was his first multi-goal game for the Hurricanes. His first one since arriving in 2012. Good lord.
Staal has no scoring prowess and for being 6’4, hits like he’s 5’5. He is past his prime and can hardly convert a fast break scoring chance into an actual goal. Don’t let this hot start fool you into thinking he is the answer, as his season totals will likely be unimpressive. He is part of an older generation that really doesn’t fit into the current team. If he can’t hit well, score consistently, or facilitate the offense productively, then why is he getting $6 million a year?
Derek Ryan is the only other center on the roster to log over a point in the last five. That just makes the entire position look bad. Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, and Marcus Kruger, for lack of better terms, suck right now. Most of the offense is pretty dreadful and it is honestly shocking to see Jordan Staal outperforming his fellow forwards. Why then am I calling for his exit? Stock.
The better he plays, the higher his stock goes. The higher his stock goes, the value of what Carolina could get for him increases. Everybody loves a savvy-veteran center, especially when all it costs is youth and draft picks. Staal is the best example of a player general manager Ron Francis could turn into a bunch of great drafts picks or an undeveloped talent.
If coach Peters truly wants to implement his system, he needs to get rid of Staal. Lindholm is capable and I think management has the confidence to thrust him into that number one spot. Derek Ryan is obviously fitting into his role quite comfortably, but the offense as a whole needs to pick it up and I believe they will. Staal could get the team some great draft picks, which is Ron Francis’ specialty.
Staal could easily be traded for another veteran as well, which honestly at this point is fine. The Hurricanes organization just does not want to let go of the Staal family and it is hurting them. They played an integral part in the Stanley Cup run and have been a household name, I understand that. However, holding onto a good thing too long often makes it worse.
Due to the fact that the Hurricanes have been a front office nightmare in recent memory, Staal is only on year five of his mega 10-year contract. Convincing a team to take it can present some challenges, but there are honestly teams out there that would turn Jordan Staal into an all-star. The Hurricanes just aren’t one of these teams.
This is my annual cry for Carolina to be smart and consolidate and ditch Jordan Staal before it’s too late. Please, for the fans sake, move on from the past and realize the Staals will no longer be helping us win anything.