Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eric Staal: 3 Autographed Cards

It's finally done: Eric Staal left one brother, Jordan Staal (and, to a lesser extent, Jared Staal, who plays in the minors), to go play with another, Marc Staal, as the Carolina Hurricanes have traded their long-time captain to the New York Rangers, for two second-round picks and prospect Aleksi Saarela.

New Yorkers seem to call it a blockbuster, but we're talking about a 31-year-old former power forward who has slowed down and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, looking for another huge payday, already parading around with an $8.5M cap hit. He was sixth on the Canes with 33 points in 63 games and, though he led his team last year, could only put up 54 in 77 games.

As a matter of fact, he has only actually reached the point-per-game mark four times in his entire NHL career, with a high of 100 points (good for 8th in the NHL) in 2005-06; the last time he reached the 30-goal mark was in 2010-11.

He was never the quickest guy out there, which is why some of his statistics have gone down drastically over time, but the 6'4'', 205-pound center can probably still contribute somewhat on a second or third line. At the very least, as a Triple Gold winner - a Stanley Cup (2006), as well as World Championship gold (2007) and Olympic gold (2010 with Team Canada), he knows what it takes to win (usually a top-notch goalie, and the Rangers have the best in the business in Henrik Lundqvist).

He also unfairly carries a reputation for being fragile, but he hasn't missed more than 10 games in a single season since 2009-10, the last full season in which he was a point-per-game player (70 in 70).

We'll see how it pans out with the Rangers and which team will offer him way too much money next summer, but my thoughts are as follows: if Rick Nash is having a hard time in the Big Apple, I don't see how a slower Eric Staal can fare any differently.

I met Staal at the 2008 Worlds in Québec City (silver medal) and crossed his path a few times in Montréal. I have three of his cards signed in fading black sharpie (with his jersey number, 12, tagged at the end), showing the evolution of the Canes' uniforms prior to this most recent one. First, here is the pre-lockout era white (home) uniform, a little plain-looking without the shoulder piping, on card #85 from Upper Deck's 2007-08 Victory set:
Here's how it looked with better shoulder definition, from UD's 2007-08 Series 2 set (card #432 in the collection), with the alternate captain's "A", as he was taking on a leadership role:
And finally, a superb view of the Canes' best jersey, the 2007-13 red (home) uniform, on card #54 from Upper Deck's 2008-09 Collector's Choice set, with the team's 10th anniversary patch in front:
It'll be weird to see him in blue after a decade with Carolina and the Canadian team, which both play in red, white and black.

No comments:

Post a Comment