The New York Rangers have acquired Eric Staal in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes ahead of the NHL trading deadline, according to TSN and multiple media reports.
The Rangers will receive Staal in the trade, while the Hurricanes will receive top prospect Aleksi Saarela and two second-round draft picks. The Hurricanes will retain 50 percent of Staal's $8.25 million salary in the deal, according to Pat Leonard at the New York Daily News. Staal had a no-move clause in his deal, and he had to approve any trade for the Hurricanes. Staal now will play alongside his brother Marc Staal, a defenseman for the Rangers.
Staal had been considered one of the top targets at the trade deadline, as he is heading towards unrestricted free agency and was not expected to re-sign with the Hurricanes. The Rangers confirmed the trade on Sunday, sending a second round pick in 2016 and 2017 to Carolina in the deal. Saarela is considered to be the best prospect in the Rangers system, and he is coming off of a strong run with Finland in the World Junior Championships.
The Rangers were expected to make at least one significant move at the deadline, as the team is going "all-in" on a Stanley Cup run this season. The team has a strong core with Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, but those players are getting older each year, and the window to win a title is getting smaller with each season. Adding Staal gives the team some strong depth up front and adds a productive player to one of New York's top lines.
Staal has Stanley Cup experience after winning the title with the Hurricanes back in 2006. Staal has been the captain of the team since 2010 and he comes in with 775 points, including over 300 goals in his career. Staal previously played with his brother Jordan Staal in Carolina, and now he will play with his other brother Marc in New York.
Staal, 31, will become a free agent this summer after spending his career with the Hurricanes before the trade to New York. The Hurricanes had been debating whether or not to trade Staal for most of the season, and now he adds some strong depth for the Rangers. Staal comes in with just 33 points this season, but he has been productive through his career, putting up at least 50 points in every season apart from his rookie year.