The Toronto Maple Leafs would be foolish to trade for Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal and, in the process, destroy a lot of the young talent and organizational depth that general manager Brian Burke has worked hard to build over the past few seasons.
While the Staal to Maple Leafs rumors sounds exciting, Toronto would be best served keeping that scenario to what it is now: just a rumor.
Burke's team has played well this season and should make the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season. The team doesn't need to make a major trade in order to earn a playoff berth, and giving up prized prospects for Staal would just be silly.
Should the Maple Leafs try to acquire Staal via trade?
Toronto would likely have to give up a package of prospects that could include Joe Colborne, Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin in any deal for Staal.
Staal is a tremendous player, probably a top-10 center in the NHL, but he's not worth a ton of the young talent that represent the future of your team's success.
The Hurricanes' captain has scored only nine nine goals with 16 assists for 25 points this season. That's not a terrible stat line for most hockey players, but for a superstar like Staal, that is pretty weak. I understand that he doesn't have a ton of talent around him in Carolina, but his offensive production just hasn't been good enough this year.
Staal's contract is also way too large for the Maple Leafs to take on right now. His $8.25 million salary cap hit would prevent the Maple Leafs from having any salary cap flexibility over the next four years of his current contract.
Toronto is currently very close to the salary cap right now, and trading for a contract such as Staal's would be a really bad move for the future. The Maple Leafs would be better off shaving cap room this season and getting big players in free agency after this season, when star players such as Zach Parise, Shea Weber, James Neal and Alexander Semin are all restricted or unrestricted free agents.
Eric Staal is a good player, but his contract makes him a poor trade option for the Maple Leafs as they try to build a perennial playoff contender.
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