Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pens Ink Jordan Staal For 4 years

In a move that appeared to come out of nowhere, the Penguins have signed young center Jordan Staal to a 4 year 16 million dollar contract. Staal has as much upside as just about any young player in the league, but has yet to really fulfill much of the promise in his game.

The price is also about what I expected per year for a Staal contract, and is actually probably less than what Staal would have gotten this coming summer on the open market from some foolish, free-wheeling team in a move of desperation. So regardless of your feelings on Staal as a player, you've got to at least appreciate the value in this contract.

This also quashes any and all trade rumors regarding young Mr. Staal, which likely also quashes any mega-trade fantasies that anybody out there has regarding bringing in the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk or whoever else. Surely the Pens didn't sign Staal to increase his trade value (though that actually makes sense), as no one does such a thing. Jordan is here for the long-term people.

It remains to be seen at what position Staal's future lies with this team. There has been much clamoring for him to play on a wing with Sid and Geno, but Staal, Mikey Therrien, and Ray Shero all seem to prefer him centering the 3rd line, at least for now. I still am skeptical as to whether or not that is really the position he ends up at, but time will tell. One thing that is certain, though, is that he can get plenty of playing time on the 3rd line as a center line as well as being on the top PK unit and being on the ice for the powerplay as well.

I see Staal morphing into a more physical player given his very large stature as his career progresses. He could certainly be a force in front of the net with that unteachable attribute if he is able to pick up the nuances of it and get some time there.

For now, I expect we will see the same things out of Staal that we have of late. Inconsistencies on offense, excellent skill, great defense especially on the PK, and occasional flahses of brilliance. The value of this contract is in the assumption that he will mature and evolve, and that is the reason I am very much in favor of this extension. No matter what they say, I give Ray Shero another thumbs-up for this deal.

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