Nashville Predators Free Agent Outlook: Eric Staal

New York Rangers center Eric Staal (12) . Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
New York Rangers center Eric Staal (12) . Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators have the chance to bring a player they may have considered trading for to the team as a Free Agent.

The Nashville Predators should have some available cap space this offseason and the question becomes what should they use it on. When you’re in the Western Conference, more specifically the Central Division, the Center position is usually the deepest for the Cup-contending teams.

Just think about some of the teams that have won or challenged for the Cup. The Kings had Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar, The Sharks have Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, The Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, The Blackhawks have Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov, and the list goes on and on.

Who do the Nashville Predators have? We finally traded to get our number one center in Ryan Johansen so that’s set in stone, but who’s the number two center. Right now that’s between Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro. I stated in a past article  that I think the Preds should maybe take a look for another true number two center in free agency.

One name that popped up in everybody’s minds during the trade deadline this year was Eric Staal. Could the addition of Eric Staal help push the Predators into that Cup Contenders category that they believe they’re in?

It seems clear that longtime Carolina Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal will be heading to Free Agency after his very short and somewhat unsuccessful stint with the New York Rangers. Let’s take another look at him and see if he might fit on the Nashville Predators roster.

What does he Bring to Nashville

Experience. That is something that a young team like Nashville could use, and Eric Staal brings it. In 2006 The Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup with a coach named Peter Laviolette and big time goal scorer in Eric Staal. That year Eric Staal recorded 45 goals, 55 assists, and 100 points in 82 games, and in the playoffs, he had 9 goals and 29 assists in 25 games.

Granted that was ten years ago, but how many cup winners do have on our roster right

Nashville Predators
New York Rangers center Eric Staal (12). Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

now? The closest thing we have is Mike Fisher who made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 for Ottawa and lost in 5 games to Anaheim. Having someone who has experience in winning is great. Plus it helps that Staal has been successful in Laviolette’s system.

Before this last season split between Carolina and New York, Staal has been consistent since that 2006 Cup winning season in points. He’s had 50 points or more as a regular event, and that’s what David Poile wants from this team.. Consistency was something that slipped the team at moments during the regular season.

What will he Cost?

Here comes the big question. Is the buying price too much. Staal was earning roughly 8 million dollars until Carolina retained part of it to send him to The Rangers, and the concern is will he be looking at similar money at his new home. Some General Mangers in this league can get a bit weird and spend a lot on a player to make sure they get a guy they believe can change their team for the good.

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Thankfully that’s something Poile hasn’t done these last two years. Poile has given out “prove it” $1 million in one year deals. I don’t think Eric Staal will bite on a deal like that, but there is a chance maybe Poile can convince Staal to take a smaller more second line type contract. Plus after his rough season last year I think Staal will probably have to take a hit on his millions to get on a contending team.

Should the Preds go get Him?

This is a bit of a head scratcher for me because I believe Eric Staal is an upgrade to Mike Ribiero, but I worry that Staal may be further down the decline of his career than I initially thought.

Staal’s regular season stats in Carolina:

63 games, 10 goals, 23 assists, 33 points, minus -3 player rating, 159 shots on net, and a 53.74 faceoff win percentage

Staal’s regular season stats in New York:

20 games, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, plus +1 player rating, 40 shots on net, and a 51.04 faceoff win percentage

I believe these stats are much lower than Staal’s expectations of himself and definitely lower than someone who was making around 8 million in a year. This could be a make or break it year for Staal and it’s a risk some teams may take, but I’m truly on the fence on this one.

If the Nashville Predators really want to improve on their second line center position maybe they need to give Eric a call and check the treads on the tires so to speak. This also depends on what Poile and the Preds really want to do with Ribiero. They made it sound like they may want to keep him around longer.

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If the Predators can convince him to a smaller contract then I say yes to Eric Staal. He’s won the Cup with our coach, so he knows how to win and knows Laviolette’s system. The Preds are a contending team, and like Poile said we should just be one piece away. Eric Staal might be that piece to our Stanley Cup puzzle.