PITTSBURGH -- Ray Shero said he didn't want to do it. But when Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year contract extension on Thursday you had to know that the trade chatter was going to pick up. It did, and on Friday night the Penguins traded Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Brian Dumoulin.
The Penguins then used the No. 8 overall pick to select defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
The trade, which also happened to take place on Staal's wedding day, reunites him in Carolina with his older brother, Eric, which seemed to be high on his priority list.
Staal was eligible to be an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season and the Penguins most likely knew they were going to lose him for nothing. Rather than run that risk, they struck the deal and probably received the best possible deal they could given the circumstances.
"We were prepared to move forward with Jordan for next year and kind of see what happens," said Shero on TSN following the trade. "But the more we thought about it and the more teams called we just felt as an organization it was just the right thing to do for Jordan. He's ready for an expanded role, he's ready to expand his wings here. Carolina certainly is a great place for him and his new wife Heather. So congratulations to them. Hopefully it's a good deal for him and he's happy. It was a wonderful six years here for Pittsburgh and Jordan Staal."
Shero also thanked Staal "for six great years" at the podium before he announced the Penguins selection at No. 8 overall.
In Sutter the Penguins are getting a replacement for Staal as their third-line center to play behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While Sutter isn't as good as Staal, he's not a bad replacement for that role either. He's already played big minutes in Carolina as a shutdown center, is younger, and is signed for the next two years at a cap hit of just over $2 million per year.
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Add in the fact the Penguins were able to add two more high upside young defensemen to their crop of prospects on the blue line that already includes Simon Despres and Joe Morrow, and they didn't come out with a bad return. Especially since it seemed like their trading partners were limited to Carolina and ... well ... that was about it.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said that he's hopeful that he can reach a long-term deal with Staal. It certainly can't hurt that his brother is already there and signed long-term, as well.
Carolina made its intentions of adding a big-time player this summer known early in the offseason, and in Staal they were able to do just that. There aren't many players in the NHL that can take on the type of assignments that Staal received on a nightly basis in Pittsburgh and consistently outplay some of the top players in the NHL. He's a two-way center that plays in every situation, is a top penalty killer, and gives the Hurricanes another high level talent to go with his brother and Jeff Skinner.