Familiar faces tend to reappear in hockey, which could be the case with Eric Staal. Fresh off of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance with the Florida Panthers, Staal is enjoying his twilight years in the NHL. At 39, the top point producer from the historic 2003 NHL draft may enter his last season among the world’s best if he finds a new home. Given his age, he is a perfect professional tryout target.
He was no passenger during the Florida Panthers’ deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pitching in with 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 74 regular season games, he continues to show that he can put the puck in the net. As a Stanley Cup winner many years ago with the Carolina Hurricanes and an Olympic gold medalist in 2010, Staal is a proven winner, and he could bring that to a young team in New York.
If you’re worried about Staal in the postseason, he had two goals and three assists for five points during the 23 games the Panthers played in the postseason, but that is not bad for a fourth-line guy. To provide some competition lower down the lineup, this move could make any team stronger that doesn’t have some of the firepower that the rest of the league does.
Some will be quick to note how his time as a Ranger occurred last time, and while that is a good point and a forgivable fear, he was being used in a much more prominent role as a 33-year-old. Six years later, we know Staal isn’t what he used to be. Giving him one more ride to try and capture the Stanley Cup after two different Stanley Cup Finals defeats in the final years of his career could persuade him to come back to the Big Apple.