In what might have been one of the more obvious moves of his tenure Penguins General Manager Ray Shero made a tough call and dealt Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for the Canes #8 overall pick (Derrick Pouliot) in this year's draft, center Brandon Sutter and defensive prospect Brian Dumolin.
Earlier in the week it was leaked that the Penguins offered Staal a ten year contract in the range of $60M and Staal turned it down. That was given more life when Staal's agent came out and said that they were no interested in talking an extension and a lot of people in Pittsburgh took that as he didn't want to be a Penguin.
Fast forward to today when GMRS started talking to Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford around 4:30 p.m. and they wrapped everything up around 6:45 p.m. just about 15 minutes before the draft started.
Staal was an absolute cog for the Penguins in his time with the team. All told he scored 120 goals, earned 128 assists and posted a plus-53 plus/minus rating in 431 regular-season games. None of the goals may have been bigger than the shorthanded goal that Staal scored in the 2009 Stanley Cup in game four to really flipped the script and pushed the Penguins into winning the Cup.
He was a huge member of the team and the primary key in the Penguins great PK units. He is widely considered the best two way center in the game and I would agree with that.
The key to the whole deal was Brandon Sutter. Rutherfurd said after the trade that if Sutter wasn't a part of the deal then this wasn't going to go down. Sutter will immediately be the Penguins third line center and he has the ability to play a good shut down role while adding some offense. In 286 games for Carolina Sutter has 53 goals and 54 assists and he put up 17 goals last season and scored 21 in only 72 games in the 2009-10 season. Sutter is also an outstanding face-off fan that won over 50% of his draws last year which is something that the Penguins needed an upgrade in,
I am not going to pretend to know anything about Brian Dumolin but from the little I heard he seems to be a pretty decent prospect that could be a physical presence in the Pittsburgh blue line.
The Penguins also drafted Pouliot. I haven't been following much on the draft but if you want to know about the guy you need to go check out Jesse over at Faceoff Factor. They do by far the best work in terms of the draft.
If you thought trading Staal wasn't going to happen then you really weren't following anything in the last month or so. Staal wasn't going to resign with the Penguins and it was the right move by GMRS to get something for Staal while he could. Considering that Carolina seemed to be the only vocal team in the mix it is kind of surprising that they were able to get such a good return for it. I love Staal more than the next guy, and I will never forget what he meant for this team and what he did for them, but sometimes a general manager needs to make a tough decision and pull the trigger. If GMRS let Staal play the season out he wasn't going to get anything out of this. Right now the Penguins got a pretty nice return for a guy that wasn't going to be on the team after next year.
Does this trade make the Penguins better for next year? No, it doesn't. Sutter isn't going to come in and do what Staal did and for next year that is going to hurt, but this just isn't about next year. Staal is due a pretty hefty raise and Sutter is coming in making just about $2M a year over the next couple of years. That is a huge cap savings for a team that doesn't have a ton of room. There has been some talk that the Penguins are clearing some room to try and sign Zach Parise when July 1 hits. Oh my Lord. I don't know how realistic that is (I really doubt it happens) but there has been a lot of talk that the Penguins are very serious about Parise. If that happens I don't think too many people are going to be missing Staal as much.
The tough thing about all of this is that as fans we get way too attached to players. We feel like they are a part of our extended family and when are truly good player and person like Staal leaves it is tough to deal with. The fact of the matter is that this is still a business. Staal didn't want to be the "third fiddle" in Pittsburgh and he probably wanted to make his money and he couldn't do either of those things in Pittsburgh. He was going to be a free agent and through his play he earned that right. Does it suck to see him leave Pittsburgh? Sure it does, but at the same time I am glad the Penguins have a general manager that has the balls to make a deal like this when his hands are somewhat tied.
In Ray Shero you should trust.