Toronto Maple Leafs: Eric Staal on the Leafs’ Trade Radar?

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Toronto Maple Leafs: Eric Staal on the Leafs’ Trade Radar?

Oct 10, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal (12) skates out onto the ice during the opening night ceremony against the New York Islanders at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It only took four games but we already have a hot juicy trade rumour that Leafs fans have grown accustomed to. You heard it here first during the broadcast of the Toronto Maple Leafs game the TSN panel discussed the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs targeting Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal if Carolina wanted to unload him.

Oct 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner (51) and Montreal Canadiens forward Rene Bourque (17) battle behind the net during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Now, it should be noted that with almost every top end trade target available, the Toronto Maple Leafs are usually rumoured to be interested in acquiring that player. In this case, acquiring a player like Eric Staal would solve a glaring need for the Leafs. The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs had an elite talented center like Eric Staal was when they had Mats Sundin. They have been unsuccessful in finding a replacement for Sundin, but it appears as if the Leafs could finally make a deal to get that center-man.

Here is a link to the video segment.

Darren Dreger from TSN speculated that if a deal is in the works between the Leafs and the Hurricanes, the Leafs would have to include a first round pick, either Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadriand Jake Gardiner, which the Toronto Maple Leafs would probably be willing to give up for Staal.

It seems like a hefty asking price, but don’t forget the type of player that the Leafs would acquire in this deal. Eric Staal currently stands at 6-4, 205 pounds and at the age of 29, he is in his prime and was dominant during Carolina’s Cup (albeit in 2006). He is currently stuck in a terrible situation in Carolina where the team does not have a clear direction and his chances for a Stanley Cup are quickly fading. However, I do agree that the Leafs cannot overpay for Staal, he is not the dominant 100 point player that he used to be, but he is still an elite player.

Here are his career and playoff stats.

He has been above 50% over the last four years with his Corsi percentage and close to 50% in Fenwick percentage which would impress the analytics crowd.

Oct 8, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) and center Joe Thornton (19) celebrate after the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs have kicked the tires before when it comes to acquiring a first line center. They tried to sign Brad Richards when he was an unrestricted free agent and tried to trade for Joe Thornton this summer. It appears that it has been rather difficult for the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade for a center, which is frustrating because they should have drafted one a long time ago.

They traded away two first rounders for Phil Kessel which ended up being Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, two prime players that the Leafs could have used. But it is uncertain whether those players would have been available to the Leafs and they did get Phil Kessel at least. The ironic part is that Tyler Seguin ended up being traded to the Dallas Stars, who not only got Seguin, but also traded for Jason Spezza. The Dallas Stars were able to get two first line centers and the Leafs are unable to get one?