With the 2012 NHL Draft drawing near, many have begun to speculate as to what deals are going to be made. One rumor has the Pittsburgh Penguins trading Jordan Staal to the Edmonton Oilers for the No.1 pick in this year's draft. Another rumor has Jordan Staal going to the Carolina Hurricanes. As a Pens fan, I hope that Penguins General Manager, Ray Shero, does not move Staal for the following reasons.
After a stellar rookie campaign where he notched 29 goals, many figured the rugged forward would become an offensive force for the Penguins. After his rookie season, he failed to eclipse the 50-point mark for four years; however, Staal proved that he is an offensive force to be reckoned with this season.
This past season, he recorded 25 goals and 25 assists despite playing in only 62 games. He then continued to perform well offensively in the playoffs, where he recorded six goals and three assists in six games.
Staal's offensive prowess enables the Penguins to roll out three solid scoring lines. Consequently, they can create line mismatches, and, most importantly, have a great chance to score at any point during a game.
If Staal can stay healthy this season, he will, without question, be a feared scorer this year.
Jordan Staal has been a defensive force for the Penguins since he entered the league in 2006. His long reach, strength and veteran-like defensive instincts have made him a perennial contender for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. He is a critical piece to the Penguins' penalty kill, and has been a major reason for the Penguins' success in the penalty kill department the past two years. There is no reason Staal will not play with the same defensive prowess next year.
Staal has been great for the Penguins in the playoffs during his entire career. In 73 career playoff games, he has notched 36 points—23 of them being goals.
While this rate of production may not be exceptional when compared to NHL superstars such as Steven Stamkos or Evgeni Malkin, he is more responsible defensively than most players, and does not get the power-play time that many NHL superstars do.
Jordan Staal has the ability to perform in big-time situations. He always seems to be winning the crucial faceoffs and scoring key goals. A few notable examples of Staal excelling in high-pressure situations include his hat trick against the Flyers in the first round of this year's playoffs, and his shorthanded goal in Game 6 of the 2008-2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
While there is no quantitative method to measure how "clutch" a player is, those who regularly watch the Penguins can see Jordon Staal's dominance in high-pressure situations.
Many players seem to elevate their game to a new level during contract-years in an attempt to secure a large, long-term contract. Staal's teammate, James Neal, entered his contract-year this season and played phenomenally. He went from scoring 45 points last season, to scoring 81 points this season.
I believe Staal will also join the ranks of players who perform well in their contract-year.
Patrik Stefan was arguably the biggest draft bust in NHL history.
Not all early draft picks turn out to be great players. Many players perform exceptionally well for their minor league teams; however, few can mimic that level of production in the much more difficult NHL. I would prefer to have a proven player in Jordan Staal rather than a draft pick that may potentially be a bust.
The Penguins would be wise to retain Staal for at least one more year. They have all the makings of a championship team, and it would be silly to drop an integral member of the team for an unproven skater. Hopefully, the Penguins will act wisely and keep Staal on the roster for the upcoming season.
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