Month-by-month Pensburgh grades:
Contract Status: Signed through 2012-13 with a cap hit of $4 mill. Becomes a UFA in 2013.
Interesting Stat: During the 2009-10 season, Jordan set a new career high in assists with 28 and tied his previous career high in points with 49.
The Good: Jordan Staal did everything that was expected of him this past season, and then some. I really think that, for the first time since his rookie campaign, his shot had a bit more confidence behind it. Mind you, this praise is coming from someone who bashed the hell out of him last season for shooting 90 miles wide or over the net. That was directed more towards Kris Letang this season.
But I digress. If ever there was a season where Jordan Staal showed his true value, this was it. On the PK, on the second PP unit or even working it on the third line with Cooke and/or Kennedy and/or Dupuis (injuries pending), it was comforting to see him on the ice. That much is evident in Staal's +/-; which to the surprise of no one was a Penguins-best +19.
The Bad: I know I played this card with Sidney Crosby, but I genuinely can't think of anything that would be on the bad side for Staal in 2009-10. Bad might be the wrong word in this situation, so let's say "improvement." One of the areas you always want to see your PK center work on is faceoffs. Since the league started moving opening PP faceoffs into the opposing team's offensive zone, the two-way center with skill in the circle is becoming a necessary commodity. So let's say faceoffs for the sake of criticism, even though he was 20th overall in the league with a face-off win percentage of 48.3 percent.
Final Verdict: It was a confidence year for Jordan Staal. Not that he'd necessarily need one coming off a season where he and his teammates won the Stanley Cup, but this was more of a personal thing. Confidence, in the sense that he grew as a player. If we're comparing to his 2009 run then he's definitely on the up and up. Like many of the Pensburgh wrapups centered on guys returning next season, the following season is the best way to really make a final decision on how a guy played. I'm no soothsayer, but I can confidently say that 2010 is going to be a big year for Staal.
Question and Discussion: We already know how efficient Jordan Staal can be on the PK. But how comfortable would you be if Bylsma perhaps worked him into the top PP unit a bit more? Maybe even a line promotion of sorts is in the works as well. Discuss.