With the 2011-2012 NHL season standing on the brink of crowning a champion, trade rumors are starting to become hot and heavy around the league. One player that will potentially be on the move is Pittsburgh Penguns center Jordan Staal.
There are already expected to be quite a few teams in on Staal, including the Carolina Hurricanes, where Jordan could join brother Eric Staal. But one team that could make perfect sense in a potential swap is the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes are a team without much star power, but that didn’t stop them from making a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals, where they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings. There are plenty of pieces in place, but adding a Staal to the mix would be a nearly perfect addition.
As of right now, the Coyotes are without a top offensive threat at center. Acquiring a guy like Staal would allow them to roll with him as the no. 1 or 2 guy, with Martin Hanzal and Antoine Vermette holding down the middle on two of the other top three units. Talk about a nightmare matchup.
Staal posted 50 points in 62 games last season, a career mark for the 23-year-old. He can contribute in all areas and has great size in the middle. Acquiring Staal would be a no brainer, for pretty much any team in the National Hockey League. But there are still plenty of questions about a potential deal.
The first is what it would take to bring him to the desert. Early rumors have a potential deal centering around Staal and defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle signed a new five-year deal last summer, but took a step back this season defensively. The Penguins do have a need on defense and a logjam in the middle. So on paper a deal would make sense.
The biggest issue, for any team that attempts to acquire Staal, is going to be his status as a free agent in the summer of 2013. A team is going to want to sign him to an extension likely upon acquiring him, but Staal could have a desire to test the open market after this season. You also have to wonder if the Coyotes, a team who has historically dealt in small contracts (save the Yandle deal), would want to shell out the money for Staal.
If the ownership situation is completely settled by the time a trade could come down, that’s definitely a possibility. And I don’t doubt the Coyotes’ willingness to part with Yandle, if it meant bringing in a talent like Staal. There is so much depth on this Coyotes team on the blue line, with more in development, on top of Oliver Ekman-Larsson set to emerge as a top notch defenseman in the very near future.
Towards the end of this month, you can expect trade talks to start picking up around the league and Staal is going to be a popular name. If there is to be a potential match for a deal between the Pens and Coyotes, there are plenty of factors that need to be worked out before then, the ownership situation obviously being no. 1. But there’s no denying that a Staal-for-Yandle swap would be a terrific move for Phoenix, and a good start for new owner Greg Jamison.