Marc Staal joins brother Eric on the trade train

In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal (12) skates against the Detroit Red Wings in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit. The Buffalo Sabres acquired veteran center Eric Staal in a trade that sent forward Marcus Johansson to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Ten days ago, Eric Staal was traded to the Buffalo Sabres from the Minnesota Wild. Now, there is a part two. After 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings decided to add some veteran depth and acquired Eric’s younger brother, Marc, Saturday. Unlike the Eric Staal trade, Marc’s return package to New York is future considerations. Staal is expected to provide veteran depth on defense with a mix of aging and young superstars from Dennis Cholowski to Gustav Lindstrom. If he cannot help the defense, his experience can help the offense, which features young stars such as Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi.  

Drafted 12th overall from the Sudbury Wolves of the CHL, Marc made an impact almost immediately upon his debut in 2007, putting up 10 points in 80 games during his rookie year. As the seasons went on, Staal proved to be a consistent cornerstone on some deep Rangers playoff teams. Staal also showed grit, playing in more than 72 games, 10 different times, including six straight seasons from 2013-2019.  

Over his Rangers career, Staal picked up 188 points on 43 goals and 145 assists over 892 games. This 2019-20 season was one of Staal’s weakest though, in just 52 games in a COVID shortened regular season, Staal produced 11 points on two goals and nine assists. As a one-time All-Star in 2011 and an alternate captain for ten years, Staal ranks in the top ten in games played regular season (6th) and playoffs (2nd). He also put up a +46 rating and took 432 penalty minutes. Over the playoffs, he has just 20 points on seven goals and 13 assists. 

As a result of the trade, the Red Wings also picked up a second-round pick in 2021, bringing their draft picks over the next two years to a total of 20. But that is not the only reason why Staal was traded. He brings postseason experience to a team that last made it in 2016 and is one of three Rangers all-time to play in 100 playoff games for the blueshirts. Regarding the trade, general manager Steve Yzerman explained how “the trade accomplishes a couple of things.” In addition to continuing a rebuilding team for the fifth season, Yzerman also describes the trade as “trying to be competitive. We’re trying to improve at the same time. So in this deal, not only [do] we get a defenseman that will go right into our lineup, that plugs a huge hole for us, we add future assets as well.” So the Staal trade continues a mold that the Red Wings have had for years where they acquire veterans to be successful. 

Staal is also in the final year of his six-year deal from 2015. In regard to that trade, Yzerman explained that “for the Red Wings, we are in a position, we do have the cap space and we can use it. I hope to use it wisely … I don’t want to take advantage of that, but find teams that are in a position that need to do that. Again, we’re trying to add picks or prospects and at the same time ice a team.” With the remaining $27.5 million left in cap space, Yzerman can sign players such as Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha to deals as they are restricted free agents.  

Finally, when looking at the trade, Yzerman looks to add some left-shot defensive depth.  

“We’re looking to fill spots on the left and right sides,” Yzerman said. “He plugs a huge hole on our D … He’s a good, solid defender, good size, he’s been in the league for a long time, he’s a good penalty killer, so he plugs a hole in our back end.”  

So Staal adds some depth and experience to the Red Wings, but there are reasonable fears that Staal might be heading towards the twilight of his career. Regardless, the Red Wings will look to continue rebuilding with the 4th overall pick in the draft on Oct. 6. Like the Eric Staal trade, Yzerman is taking a risk on a contract year with a Staal brother, but whether he helps the team or hurts the defense is going to come down to how he plays. Until then, only time will tell what moves the Red Wings are going to make over the coming days.  

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