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(Logo Source: NHL.com)
Title - Chris Savard
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Is Staal the right fit for the Maple Leafs?
By Chris Savard
HometownHockey.ca

Is Staal the right fit for the Maple Leafs?
There has been much speculation in NHL circles that Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal might be moved this season, if the team continues to struggle. TSN reported last night that a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs would have definite interest in the big, power centre. They speculated that the asking price for Staal would be one of Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner and a first round draft pick.
PHOTO CREDIT - NHL.com

Stoney Point - October 15, 2014 - There has been much speculation in NHL circles that Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal might be moved this season, if the team continues to struggle. TSN reported last night that a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs would have definite interest in the big, power centre. They speculated that the asking price for Staal would be one of Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner and a first round draft pick.

Staal 29, was drafted in the first round (2nd Overall) in 2003 by Carolina after a successful junior career with the OHL Peterborough Petes. His best year was in 2005-06 where he set career highs for goals (45), assist (55) and points (100).

Staal has only missed 17 games in his ten year NHL career, despite being currently out of the lineup, listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury. At 6’4” and 205 pounds, he certainly fits the bill as the large body, scoring centre that the Leafs have been looking for.

He has scored 690 points in in 771 NHL games, giving him a Points-Per-Game (PPG) of 0.89 for his career. If you break his career up into two five year segments, his numbers have been improving. In his first five years he scored 358 points in 409 games for a 0.87 PPG. In the last five years, he has scored 330 points in 360 games for a 0.92 PPG. Most of this on one of the weaker NHL teams.

No doubt, Eric Staal could help the Maple Leafs but is the asking price too high?

Let’s start with the first round pick. Without question, there is value to retaining these high draft picks, but history has shown that there are many first round picks who have not panned out. Many will argue with the deal that Brian Burke made to acquire Phil Kessel by giving up two first round picks. At the time, Kessel was a known quantity and I personally liked the logic of “one in the hand versus two in the bush”. In the right deal, moving a first round pick can make sense.

Gardiner is young and has tons of potential. He has also been a healthy scratch the last two games on a team that also has a young stud defenceman in Morgan Rielly. In many ways, the two players are very similar and one has to wonder if there is room for both of them on the Leafs roster. As such, it likely makes sense to move one of them in the right deal and if you are going to keep only one, then Rielly is the keeper.

Bozak 28, was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and has a career PPG of 0.63. Kadri 24, was chosen in the first round (7th overall) in 2009 and also has a career PPG of 0.63. Bozak’s best year was 49 points and Kadri’s best year was 50 points. Based on history, they are both comparable players and both have significant value to the current line-up.

The question then becomes which of these two centres has the greater upside? My gut tells me that long term Kadri will be the better player and as such, Bozak would be my choice to send to Carolina in the proposed deal.

Three quality players for one is a steep price to pay. Perhaps the Leafs could ask for a prospect back as part of the deal. Goaltender Daniel Altshuller and forward Sergey Tolchinsky both looked good in their OHL days and might be a good fit for the Blue and White.

When I started writing this article, I was of the belief that the price for Staal may be too high. However, as I have looked into the numbers deeper and envision the Maple Leafs finally having that sought after number one centre, the deal makes sense to me.

Bozak, Gardiner and a First for Staal and a prospect. Done deal! Stephane Robidas can offer up his number so that Staal can where his familiar number 12 with the Buds.

What do you think? You can post your comments below.

Follow Us on TwitterIn his lifetime, Chris Savard has spent time as both an elected official and a hot air balloon pilot. As such, FULL OF HOT AIR seemed to be an appropriate name for this column. Savard will provide his thoughts on a number of topics including hockey on this site, as well as politics and local issues on OurHometown.ca. His opinion combined with $1.60 will buy you a medium coffee at Tim's! You can email him at csavard@ourhometown.ca



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