When it comes to Eric Staal‘s future, there are still more questions than answers.
“I just think [Staal] is ready for a change. The team is ready for a change,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told Dean Blundell & Co. on Friday morning. “I think he’ll be re-energized by a new change in his life.”
Staal, 31, hasn’t been his usual 70-plus-point self the last few years, and it doesn’t appear he’ll have a chance to get his team back to the playoffs any time soon.
“I do think Eric Staal will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year,” said Friedman.
Friedman also believes the Hurricanes will try to trade Staal before or at this season’s trade deadline, noting that regardless what happens, the process will be done in a way “that everybody looks good.”
But what, exactly, might this possible change bring? With no solid trade or contract talks in place, it leaves room to guess.
Friedman suggests the Nashville Predators could be a perfect fit. They’re in need of a big, strong centreman and have all the other pieces — strong blue-line, reliable goalie — in place. Of course, there’s also the Peter Laviolette connection, as he and Staal led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006.
The Predators aren’t the only team swirling around the rumour mill. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos mentioned the Montreal Canadiens as a possible fit, another intriguing idea considering their status as strong Cup contenders.
Staal himself voiced his opinion on the matter last week on Hockey Central at Noon.
“I would like to [re-sign]. I haven’t talked a lot about anything, to be honest,” Staal said. “Obviously there’s decisions that need to be made moving forward.”
And the waiting game continues.