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

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

Mar 28, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal (12) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) head up ice at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Carolina 6-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The organization believed that Tyler Bozak is doing a good job at center. Also, Nazem Kadri has shown at times that he can be a talented center. However, it looks like the Leafs are ready to make a change and adding Eric Staal would be an upgrade over both Bozak and Kadri.

Oct 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak (42) scores on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that trying to trade for a number one center would cost a lot and be difficult, who knew? One way the Leafs can try to avoid overpaying is by getting Staal before the Hurricanes decide to give a number of teams a chance to make ludicrous offers. There are just a couple of problems.

Eric is signed for two more years (including this year) at $8.25 million. The Leafs do not have that kind of cap space, which is why they would have to move a couple of larger contracts in a deal. Another problem is that Eric has a NTC (No Trade Clause) which has been bad luck for the Leafs.

Jan 9, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm (16) is congratulated by teammates forward Jordan Staal (11) forward Jeff Skinner (53) and defensemen John-Michael Liles (26) after his 3rd period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Basically, Eric has to waive his NTC in order for the Hurricanes to deal him. Whether or not he does waive his clause is one thing, but will he waive it to go to Toronto? He is currently playing with his brother Jordan Staal and rumour has it that Marc Staal could join them if he decides to move on from the New York Rangers. That cannot happen in Toronto and Eric would have to realize that before agreeing to come to Toronto.

On the bright side, Eric would have the chance to play with players like Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, and Joffrey Lupul. He currently plays with Jiri Tlusty (Leafs fans should remember him), Alexander Semin from time-to-time and Elias Lindholm. Out of the three, only Lindholm has the chance to be a great player to play with, but Toronto certainly has better options. Hopefully, the salary cap continues to rise and maybe the Leafs could try to sign Marc Staal if he and the Leafs were interested (though I doubt it) and it would make it easier to manage Eric’s cap hit.

Apr 10, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal (12) is chased by the Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson (43) during the 1st period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of who the Leafs give up in a trade, it all depends on when they trade for Staal. Do they make a deal now where the price might not be as high mainly because Carolina will probably want to conduct a rebuild now, rather than later.

Or do they try to trade for him during the off-season where his pending UFA status could lower the return (but you run of the risk of not re-signing him). Or do the Leafs wait until he becomes a UFA and hope that he signs with them. The 2016 draft class has some pretty good players (most will be re-signed before) but it is an intriguing situation for a team like the Leafs who want to take the next step. I would say a first round pick a prospect and a roster player. The Leafs cannot give up two roster players and a first rounder for a player with two years left on his contract.

Here is a list of the 2016 UFA free agents that could be available from (still too early to say though):

Player, Position, Team, Age, Cap Hit, Expiry

Staal, Eric » C CAR 29 $8,250,000 2016 (UFA)
Stamkos, Steven » C TBL 24 $7,500,000 2016 (UFA)
Campbell, Brian » D FLA 35 $7,142,875 2016 (UFA)
Kopitar, Anze » C LAK 27 $6,800,000 2016 (UFA)
Ward, Cam » G CAR 30 $6,300,000 2016 (UFA)
Lucic, Milan » L BOS 26 $6,000,000 2016 (UFA)
O’Reilly, Ryan » C COL 23 $6,000,000 2016 (UFA)
Seabrook, Brent » D CHI 29 $5,800,000 2016 (UFA)
Yandle, Keith » D ARI 28 $5,250,000 2016 (UFA)
Byfuglien, Dustin » R WPG 29 $5,200,000 2016 (UFA)
Vrbata, Radim » R VAN 33 $5,000,000 2016 (UFA)
Kesler, Ryan » C ANA 30 $5,000,000 2016 (UFA)
Bieksa, Kevin » D VAN 33 $4,600,000 2016 (UFA)
Hiller, Jonas » G CGY 32 $4,500,000 2016 (UFA)
Boyle, Dan » D NYR 38 $4,500,000 2016 (UFA)
Backes, David » C STL 30 $4,500,000 2016 (UFA)
Hamhuis, Dan » D VAN 31 $4,500,000 2016 (UFA)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have to consider this because a player like Eric Staal will probably not make it to the open market. However from what we have witnessed from other deals involving star players like; Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Kesler, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jeff Carter; it all depends on the situation, the type of players and the value on the market which can be high at one moment, but drop significantly when a team wants to get the most back.

Mar 29, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal (12) prepares for a faceoff during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs have to consider the market and realize that it is going to be hard to trade for a player like Eric Staal, but you do not have to break the bank to acquire him. If you have a chance to acquire a player like Staal, capitalize on it. It will be hard to part with a Tyler Bozak because of his chemistry with Phil Kessel, but if you can acquire an elite center to play with Phil, you have to do what is in the best interest of the team.

What do you think? Would Eric fit in Toronto? Is the potential cost acceptable?

Let us know in the comments section below.