Jordan Staal: You Call That a Sophomore Slump?

Adam GreuelSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2008

Jordan Staal was born into a family of hockey addicts. His brother Jared was just drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Coyotes this past Saturday, meaning that all four Staal boys are now property of different NHL franchises. His brother Eric (Carolina Hurricanes) has already won a cup and Marc (New York Rangers) had a very impressive rookie campaign this season.

Where did the Staal boys all get their great skill from? Why, playing against each other on their homemade rink, of course.

Over the years, the Staal boys competed in many games of shinny- and hold-skating competitions to determine who was the fastest. Their father has been quoted as saying that Jordan almost always won, and he believed that Jordan was the best of his four sons.

After being drafted second overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jordan Staal made a quick impact, surprising everyone, including the Pens, by making the team out of training camp.

Jordan established himself quickly and played so well the Pens decided that he would remain on the roster for the entire season, rather then send him back to his junior team. The CHL only allows players nine games in the NHL before they can come back.

Throughout his rookie campaign, Jordan Staal drew constant praise from experts, fans, and even his own peers as he dazzled everyone with his scoring prowess and defensive nature.

Naturally, a lot was expected of Jordan Staal this year after the type of rookie season he had—some even thought he could pot forty or more goals.

Staal struggled early on during the season and many were wondering if he was having a sophomore slump. He turned it on later in the season, though, and finished with only 12 goals, still a far cry from his 29 the year before.

Personally, I don't get all this nonsense about a sophomore slump. If people were to actually watch the games they'd realize Staal makes a far bigger impact then what shows up on the score sheet.

Not only does he usually have the responsibility of having to shut down the opposition's top player, but he also plays on the Penguins' top penalty-killing unit and creates plenty of chances in the offensive zone. Staal is just starting to grow into his body and, as the years go on, he is only going to continue to get better. That's kind of scary if you ask me.

Some may say sophomore slump, but I say great season.