Figures I would actually be able to clear some schedule for Monday middle of the day and then the Canes trade deadline craziness would all happen during a busy Sunday.
I will write a couple Eric Staal memories type posts later in the week. I cannot bring myself to do it today. Earlier this week, I thought about writing those farewell type posts to have them ready, but that felt too weird.
For today, I will take a shot at the trade details for both Eric Staal’s and Kris Versteeg’s trades with Eric Staal up first.
When you look at some of the the other deals thus far, I think the closest comparable is the Andrew Ladd deal. In that trade, Winnipeg collected a first round pick and a prospect who is roughly NHL ready. For Eric Staal, the Canes received 2 second round picks and possibly a slightly higher-end prospect but 1 who is also probably farther from the NHL and therefore more uncertain. The first round pick jumps out as better, but when the first-rounder will highly likely be a bottom 5 pick, maybe 2 second round picks is comparable value. On the other hand, the trade in which the Maple Leafs sent depth players Nick Spaling and Roman Polak to San Jose and collected 2 second round picks makes the payment for Eric Staal look small.
Initial thoughts on Aleski Saarela
Like everyone else, I am just learning about Aleksi Saarela by reading about him today. As a 2015 third round pick who has had a good 2014-15 season, I think it could be fair to adjust his value upward slightly and say he is the equivalent of another second-rounder. It will be interesting to see if he and Sebastian Aho make the journey to North America together next season.
Could Francis have received more?
My hope was that the Canes would be able to parlay Eric Staal into an NHL top 9 forward even if less than Staal to immediately back fill his slot and also accelerate the building out of the forward lines. The biggest theme thus far in the Canes 2015-16 season is that the blue line is progressing ahead of schedule. With 2 more holes left by Kris Versteeg and Eric Staal and a pipeline that is not as rich or as deep at forward, Francis needs to figure out how to both stock the pipeline but also build a better set of forwards for 2016-17. He does have some assets to work on this over the summer with a number of extra draft picks that could be used and also a bunch of money coming off contract. My pipe dream that might not have been too far-fetched was parlaying Eric Staal into a bigger deal for Alex Galchenyuk when Montreal desperately needed to do something. The New York Rangers equivalent would have been Chris Kreider who would have given the Canes an NHL-ready top 9 replacement for Staal.
But it is not clear that Ron Francis could have squeezed more out of the Rangers especially given Eric Staal’s no-trade clause and the potential limitations, I think Francis did well. I would not say that he hit a home run, but I think he hit a solid double and also did it early enough that he did not risk doing worse in rolling the dice on Monday.
Also not to be discounted is the fact that the Canes will still need to pay half of Eric Staal’s salary down the stretch. My rough math says that is $1 million in the middle of season in which ticket sales are not matching up to salary costs.
Trying to parse through what happened
I doubt we will ever know everything that happened behind the scenes, but my subjective interpretation of the situation is that Ron Francis was ready to move on. During the check points during the season, there was never any mention of actual negotiations offers. It always seemed to be more general ‘talks’ or ‘schedule for talks’ or vague niceties that suggested working peacefully but not on anything specific. In Francis’ press conference 2 things jumped out at me. The first was his mention of “We couldn’t get comfortable on a contract term.” He did not say what Eric Staal’s side was looking for in terms of number of years, but my instinct tells me that this did not fall through because Eric Staal requested some crazy length on the deal. To that point, Francis also said,”We talked more in generalities than specifics.” He did not say it directly, but it did not sound like things every really turned into a true negotiation with numbers going back and forth. Francis also said,”It just didn’t fit for where we are now and where we are going.” When July comes around, Ron Francis will likely be shopping for a veteran forward or 2, and Eric Staal is likely to be available at least on July 1, but my gut instinct tells me that Ron Francis has mostly moved forward.
Grading the deal
When I net it out I give Ron Francis a solid B for this move, and it is possible that a B was the best he could do with the cards he was dealt. An A for me would have required a right now top 9 forward coming back still with futures.
What say you Canes fans? Can you even believe that Eric Staal is gone? I know this has been a possibility for some time now, but it is still hard to digest. Are you happy with the return?