Jordan Staal's Top Moments with the Pittsburgh Penguins
The NHL's version of the big three is no more. Crosby, Malkin and Staal have officially been broken up.
The Penguins traded Jordan Staal tonight to the Carolina Hurricanes for center Brandon Sutter, defensman Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, which was used on defensman Derrick Pouliot.
Time will tell if the three players the Pens received in return will provide what Jordan did for the team, but they won't be able to replace the many great moments the second-youngest Staal brother provided since his rookie year in 2006-07.
Hat Tricks, clutch goals, stifling defense and a Stanley Cup ring to boot, Jordan Staal did what was asked of him night in and night out, missing only one game between 2006-07 and 2009-10.
Over the next few slides, I will rank the biggest moments the prized third-line center had in his Pens career.
8. Being Selected by the Pens No. 2 Overall
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With the No. 2 pick in the 2006 NHL draft, GM Ray Shero had a wealth of top young hockey prospects to choose from.
Many clamored for Jonathan Toews, others for Phil Kessel. Some wanted the Penguins to trade up and acquire Erik Johnson.
Low and behold, the Penguins selected Staal. Many doubted if he would be as successful as his brother and thought he was being drafted this early on name recognition alone.
Staal proved all of the doubters wrong, becoming the first player in this draft class to burst onto the NHL scene the following fall at the young age of 17, while most kids are still in high school.
He became a shutdown defensive player from the get-go, scored many shorthanded goals and nearly had a 30-goal rookie season
7. First NHL Goal
His shorthanded prowess would evolve over the course of the year as well, but nothing quite like scoring your first goal with a man down, and on a breakaway nonetheless.
6. First Career NHL Hat Trick
In an early February game vs. the Maple Leafs in 2007, Jordan Staal had his coming out party.
Working on the wing with Evgeni Malkin, Staal scored his first career hat-trick, including the overtime winner.
5. Breaking the Rookie SHG Record
Staal would go on to set the rookie record for short-handed goals later on that same year vs. the Ottawa Senators.
What makes this goal even better is that it sparked a huge third-period comeback in a game where the Pens trailed by three goals, only to come back and win the game in a thrilling shootout.
Fast-forward to the 2:21 mark.
4. Hat-Trick vs. Philadelphia; 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4
The Penguins were on their last legs this previous postseason. Philly was dominating the Pens in every way and it seemed as if anything the Pens tried on the Flyers backfired with the result of pucks entering their own net.
The Penguins needed a hero to step up in Game 4, and Jordan Staal answered the call.
He notched his first ever playoff hat-trick, and led the Pens to a 10-3 victory, keeping their season alive.
While Jordan unfortunately played what would be his last game ever in a Penguins sweater that Sunday, he marked his exit with the same flair that he brought to the Pens as a teenager from Ontario.
3. 2008 Hat-Trick vs. Detroit
With the Penguins trailing 5-3 in the third period to their nemesis from the previous season's cup finals, Jordan Staal stepped up yet again to lead the Pens to a come-from-behind victory at the Joe.
With the Penguins trailing 5-3, Staal scored a natural hat-trick, including the game-tying goal with under 30 seconds left.
Staal wasn't done yet, however, as he set up Ruslan Fedotenko with a perfect pass that led to a one-timer game-winning goal, and a game to be remembered for a long time.
2. SHG vs. Detroit; 2009 Stanley Cup Finals Game 4
The biggest goal of Staal's career, hands down, was his shorty vs. the Red Wings in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals.
With the Pens down 2-1 in the game, and 2-1 in the series, the Wings were grabbing momentum and the series was setting up to finish the same way as the year before.
The Wings were on a power play midway through the second, when Jordan Staal took the puck, scored the tying goal and brought down the house at the Mellon Arena.
This was the type of series-changing goal the Pens needed in an absolute must-win game, which they ended up winning 4-2.
1. On the Ice at the End of Game 7; Winning the Stanley Cup
Nothing could top being given the responsibility of shutting down the opposition at the very end of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and doing just that.
Staal was on the ice for the most crucial part of the most crucial game the Pens have played, arguably, in their entire existence.
Staal's efforts helped the Pens become the first team to win a Game 7 of a championship series on the road since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, ironically enough.
Fast-forward to 2:21