Eric Staal (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)
Veteran center Eric Staal could be one of the trade deadline's most sought after rentals if he remains without a contract extension come February. The 30-year-old has spent his entire career in Carolina, but it could be time for a change of scenery. In Boston, an injury to defenseman Dennis Seidenberg could have the Bruins looking for veteran blueline help.
Most of the recent NHL media speculation is focused upon the respective contract statuses of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Lately, however, attention has shifted onto forward Eric Staal's future with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Like Stamkos and Kopitar, the 30-year-old Hurricanes captain is eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. In an interview with Sportnet The Fan 960, Elliotte Friedman claims Staal's agent Rick Curran and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis were no closer to a deal.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports Curran and Francis had a great open dialogue, but no time frame on reaching an agreement. He points out Staal's status is different to that of Stamkos and Kopitar, who are playing on postseason contenders.
Friedman observes Staal currently has a terrific setup with the Hurricanes. He gets to play alongside his brother Jordan, plus his family enjoys living in Carolina. However, Friedman believes Staal, whose production has declined in recent years, could benefit from a change of scenery. He and LeBrun took note of Staal's full no-movement clause, but the latter wonders if the Hurricanes will try to move him out by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
If Staal hits the trade block this season, SI.com's Allan Muir considers the Nashville Predators a possible destination. Muir believes the Predators current centers (Mike Ribeiro, Mike Fisher, Cody Hodgson and Paul Gaustad) are the weakest among this seasons' playoff contenders.
Stall could become this season's most valuable post-season rental player. With his no-movement clause, however, he has full control of his fate in 2015-16. It remains to be seen if he'll be available, let alone if a club like the Predators will get into what could be a bidding war for his services.
What's clear is Staal won't be moved before the season begins, even if still unsigned. His cap hit is currently $8.25 million, though in actual salary he'll make $9.5 million. That's a hefty contract for most teams to take on at this point in the year. The best time to move him is late-January into February, when over half of that salary has been paid out by the Hurricanes.
Negotiations between the two camps will likely continue into the regular season. Staal's future with the Hurricanes will depend not just upon what he's seeking for a new contract, but also his and the club's performance over the course of the season.
BRUINS BLUELINE IN NEED OF BOOST?
Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is expected to miss several days of training camp because of an upper-body injury. It's an unfortunate turn for the 34-year-old Seidenberg, who's hoping to shake off last season's poor performance.
Given the lack of skilled, experienced depth on the Bruins defense corps, SI.com's Allan Muir wonders if GM Don Sweeney might be in the market for help. For now, it appears Sweeney will use the training camp/pre-season period to evaluate young blueliners like Torey Krug, Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow.
If none of those youngsters can suitably fill a top-four position, Sweeney could have little choice but to shop around for an experienced defenseman. If he goes the UFA route, however, he'll find pickings very slim. Sweeney had interest earlier this summer in FA rearguards Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff and Marek Zidlicky, but they've since signed with other clubs.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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