Josh Yohe from the Trib with a bombshell on Saturday night: the Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly looking into bringing back Jordan Staal.
The Penguins are interested in reacquiring center Jordan Staal, sources told Trib Total Media.
A move likely would not take place until after the season, though the Penguins have inquired about what it would take to obtain the Carolina Hurricane before the March 2 trade deadline, sources said.
Such a move would require the Penguins to slash significant salary, as they are less than $1 million under the $69 million salary cap.
Staal signed a 10-year, $60 million contract in July 2012, days after the Penguins traded him to Carolina. Current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford signed Staal to the deal after swapping center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Staal, 26, has a full no-trade clause in his contract, but sources close to Staal said he would forgo that if it meant returning to the Penguins.
If true, wow. That 8th pick turned into Derrick Pouliot , and the young defenseman has already started to show flashes of greatness in the NHL. Sutter has had a rocky trip in Pittsburgh and Dumoulin has failed to make an NHL impact, partly due to getting stuck behind Pouliot and other prospect Scott Harrington .
What would the cost be? Even if the Pens flip back what they sent, they might come out ahead, value-wise on the ice, just since Staal has been so great. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that but who knows. Sutter is still well regarded if he is the center-piece it would make a lot of sense for both sides. The Pens don't need to keep Sutter if they plan on bringing back Staal.
The other key is that Yohe said this move might not happen until after the season. This makes a TON of sense with regards to the salary cap. The Penguins would have to clear a lot of cap room to bring in Staal right now, and realistically, that's probably not going to work.
Another huge piece is that Staal seemingly would want to come back to the 'Burgh. Since leaving in 2012, he's suffered through mediocrity and injuries in Carolina, a team that hasn't been in the playoffs ever since the Pens knocked them out back in 2009. And, with all due respect, they don't look like they're particularly close to making it back to the playoffs any time soon, as they're currently in last place in the division.
Finally, there is the cap going forward to consider. The Pens already have $39.4 million dollars tied to just 8 forwards next season (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, David Perron, Pascal Dupuis, Sutter and Nick Spaling) though, conceivably they probably would trade one of those latter names as part of the deal to Carolina to get Staal. And, though it's a shame to say, Dupuis has a blood clot in his lung and his return isn't guaranteed if he can't be medically cleared.
But, assuming Dupuis is good-to-go, add in the defensemen signed for next season (Kris Letang
, Rob Scuderi
, Simon Despres
, Olli Maatta
, Pouliot) and Marc-Andre Fleury
and the Pens are up to $58.82 in salaries, with a lot of holes to fill offensively. With a salary cap ceiling estimated at $73 million
(dependent on the fluctuations of the weak Canadian dollar) , the Pens seemingly can't afford to add Staal, unless they clear out a similar amount of salaries.
And clearing out that salary might make the same problems that have plagued them before: too top heavy and not enough cap room to acquire enough depth to surround with the star players in order to compete for Cups.
That said, if the Pens can bring back Jordan Staal, they're probably going to be a better team, overall. It would depend on what the final trade cost is, but Carolina doesn't have a lot of leverage with a player that is more disgruntled than gruntled. That's always a good thing. It definitely gives us something to look at up to March 2nd and again in the summer.