Player: Eric Staal
Cap Hit: 8.25 Million (4.125 Million for NYR)
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2015-2016 G-A-P: 13-26-39 (3-3-6 with NYR in 20 games)
Eric Staal, older brother of Marc, the potential savior for the New York Rangers 2015-2016 campaign. What went wrong? The aging, 31-year-old forward has seen a decline in numbers since his huge 7 year, 57.75 million dollar contract after posting a 40 goal, 75 point season. Since that contract year, Staal has had 70-point seasons, on a very poor Carolina Hurricanes team, making these numbers even more impressive. In 2014-2015, Staal had his worst season yet posting a line of 23-31-54. Most fans could label this as an “off year” and move on, especially when on such a dismal Carolina team. However, some more critical fans would label this as the decline of an aging player, and those fans had proper hindsight.
Anyone who questioned the acquisition of Eric Staal before the deal is certainly questioning the deal even more so now. On February 28, 2016 the Rangers acquired Eric for promising 19-year-old center Aleksi Saarela, a second round pick in 2016 and a second round pick in 2017. With Staal having a career low year with a line of 10-23-33 in 63 games, management should have seen what was to come. Right off the bat, as expected, Staal had a hard time fitting into the lineup. Having another natural center in the lineup meant Staal would be better suited being the third line center. With Staal centering the likes of Hayes, Stalberg, Lindberg, and Fast its no surprise he wasn’t able to get his game going. Staal posted a miserable 3-3-6 line with the New York Rangers in 20 games, never truly finding his game. Even more dismal was his playoff performance (much like the entire team) where in 5 games he posted 0 goals, 0 assists, and 0 points.
The future of the New York Rangers “core” is likely to change this summer and there is no room for a washed up, overpaid Eric Staal. Due to his name and long career I’m guessing a team with a ton o cap space will likely pay him at an extremely reduced rate of around 4 million for a few years. The Rangers should be nowhere near this deal. It would just throw them back into overpaying for deteriorating talents to the likes of Dan Boyle, Rick Nash, and Dominick Moore. Hopefully Eric will move on from his quick visit with New York and leave us with much-needed cap space this upcoming off-season.