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remkin

The Eric Staal Discussion Area

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Haven't had a poll in a while. Just curious so added the poll.

I have never been a Staal basher. Over the course of his playing here he has been a huge net positive. Until last year's arrival of Jeff the wonder kid and Ward in his full glory, Staal was our only superstar and kept us out of the cellar. I have been a huge fan overall from the beginning.....Can you feel the BUT coming?

BUT something is wrong so far this year... very wrong. And something finally needs to be done about it.

Eric Staal is an elite top forward. Eric Staal is not a good center. I am not the first to notice this, but I am fully on board now.

Centers, especially first line centers are supposed to playmake:

Eric Staal has ONE assist this year. (Skinner has 6). On this one, Eric usually does OK, but never the great playmaker. But not this year at all.

Centers are supposed to back check and play defensively responsible hockey:

Eric Staal is the worst PLAYER (dmen, wingers, 4th liners included) in the league with a -10 plus/minus. There are 22 PAGES of players with better plus minuses and the next guy (#637) is +2 better, and we're only 8 games in. It took Staal the entire season to get to -10 last year.

His last 4 season progression: +15, +4, -10, ??

Centers are supposed to win face-offs:

Eric Staal is #79/87 in face-offs* at 42.3%. BUT DID YOU KNOW THIS: Eric Staal is #1 in the league in face-offs taken (tied). When you look at that last page of face-off losers, none are even close to as many face-offs. I don't know if this is Eric's choice or Mo's but this is really unbelievable. Year after year after year Staal is on the last page of face-off losers. HE IS NOT GOING TO GET IT. Yet he has taken as many face-offs as anyone in the LEAGUE. I just can't get over that. The only thing I can think of is that Eric wants to take them and Mo can't say no to Eric. Of course I could be wrong, but what else explains it? Even honest Mo bashers can't think he is that stupid.

* with enough face-offs to qualify.

So, what do you do? We need Staal. He is a force up front. He is a top 20 forward if not better when he is right. But if we allow him to continue to inflict this kind of positional ineptness, we are going NOWHERE fast.

One question is who's calling the shots? Is Mo patently afraid of a petulant Staal, or does Mo just keep thinking he'll get better at this stuff and we are pretty weak as center in terms of these issues other than Sutter?

The solution is simple and elegant**. Find a decent playmaking center out there. Bring him in on the fist line and move Staal to wing. I know that Staal likes being a center, but how fun is it to lose draw after draw and dig puck after puck out of your own net? Staal at wing unleashes his talents and frees him of his liabilities. It should be liberating and it shakes things up. The whole team will respond.

**other than finding the guy.

I believe that when Brindy was struggling mightily with the plus minus and management initially did nothing, it spread to the whole team. This will also if it is not fixed.

While I did come up with the team feeding off the lack of willingness of coaches to address this, I did NOT come up with the idea of Staal on the wing***. Last year he played wing in anticipation of the olympics mainly to get a spot on a center loaded team, and others on this board have mentioned how his skill set is more wing-like for a while on these boards. But never has it been more obvious.

***most recently mentioned by pkling stimulating my renewed interest in this.

Moving Staal to wing and bringing in a playmaker is good for everyone, including Staal. It will lift the team instantly.

I know you're reading this JR....with Faulk back, and an extra 2nd round pick, you've got some chips...

Push them in.

Edited by remkin

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I am personally very much with you as well as with all the points and perceptions you have made, something needs to be done and quickly. My own belief with Staal having taken more FO's than anyone else in the league is that other teams have noticed all this as well and are going after him to freeze the puck and get faceoffs whenever they see Eric come on the ice. They know they've got a great chance of getting possession, it's the kind of thing teams can build strategy around and Mo plays right into their hands.

Eric is also tied for only 77th among just centers in the league with only 5 hits thus far, so he's not making up for the shortcomings with additional nastiness or some aggression that might help him break out more. I hate to say it and I know that it has bothered him a great deal since but the best hit I've ever seen him make was on Marc last spring. If he did that a LOT more he might find more success.

They just called up Faulk this AM, maybe there is a trade coming. I'd very much hate to see either Joslyn or Harrison go and particularly not Allen, who has looked terrific thus far...

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Something does seem amiss with him. You make good points (none of it reads as bashing) and his numbers are cause for some concern even at this early date. Hopefully they figure something out sooner than later.

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Centers come in all different shapes, sizes, and abilities. Production is what really matters. And Staal’s production, like every other player in the league, is partly dependent on his linemates. It is the GM’s job to get the proper players in here and it is the Coach’s job to pair them up correctly. Right now we have 4 legitimate top 6 players (Staal, Skinner, Ruutu, and Jokinen). LaRose and Poni do not belong in that group and are being miscast there. Add to the mix the fact that Ruutu has largely looked terrible this year, and we have a serious problem up front. Essentially, we have 3 Top 6 forwards and a plethora of 3rd and 4th line fodder.

Mo is clearly having trouble deciding if he wants one scoring line and 3 checking lines or 4 checking lines. None of our young guys seem even remotely ready to step up into that role. Dalpe might be closest, but we’ll never know as Mo has him tabbed as a 4th liner. A trade appears to be Rutherford’s only legit option and McBain and Ruutu are his only real currency.

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Yep, I and a few others have made this argument before. It's a very interesting thought, but seems so extremely unlikely that I try not to think about it too much anymore. It's up there with "if we signed Brad Richards" or "if we signed Mike Richards" or so on. It's such a drastic measure, and if it goes wrong then you've really screwed with team chemistry. Just can't see this team's management taking such a risk.

That said, right now, all you have to do is look at his current linemates to see why he is struggling. This was a fairly predictable result of not replacing Cole with an equivalent. I said it before, Brindy in his prime couldn't do much with Poni and LaRose on his wings.

One correction remkin, Staal wasn't playing wing because of the Olympics, it was because he had an injury (shoulder?) and they didn't want him taking faceoffs.

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I thought I recalled some discussion of him maybe showing that he could play wing pre-olympics, but maybe I'm wrong. I do remember the shoulder thing. The best I can recall he did pretty well on the wing.

I do agree with those pointing out that it is hard for Staal to succeed without legit first line wingers. I think it obvious that I've been on that bandwagon for, oh, a while.

I just think a first line center with Staal on the wing would be even better. So much so that even a bit of a reach (a second line center with potential) would probably be enough to unlock the potential.

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Jeez I was hoping I wasn't the only one noticing something with Staal. He definitely looks like he needs a playmaker. I for one wouldn't mind JR giving up a bit to try and pry Spezza away from the Sens. Talk about a holy jumpin' combo.

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Eric Staal has ONE assist this year. (Skinner has 6). On this one, Eric usually does OK, but never the great playmaker. But not this year at all.

First off, great job with the post. I think you really made some good points and brought up some concerns you have and presented evidence as to why you felt this way. Already better than 99% of the posts.

But I did want to comment on this part. Staal has NEVER been a guy to put up a lot of assists. Even in his 100 point year, he did so with only 55 assits, which is very low for a guy with 100 points. Most guys do it with 30 and 70. Since then, he has had 40, 44, 35, 41 (70 games) and 43 (81 games).

Eric is and always has been a goal scorer as opposed to a playmaker, and it's perfectly fine for that to be from a guy playing in the middle.

This is not unique in the league, either. While Steven Stamkos is a better player than Eric, he has always been a guy who like Staal, scores from the center position as he has scored 23, 51 and 45 goals but never eclipsed 46 assists for a season.

While I agree that his +/- is a concern, I wouldn't read too much into it. Most of that is because most of his scoring has occured on the power play. +/- is much more telling for 3rd and 4th line forwards and all defensmen than scoring guys because the numbers are inflated based on the power play.

Overall, I'm thrilled to have Eric Staal on this team. And I agree that putting a guy like Spezza or a playmaker with him would help him - it would help anyone in the league. But in the end, Staal scores goals. Year in and year out. And he is paid to do that. Not get assists.

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I know this is beating a dead horse, but I believe Staal needs Cole, or a player of his type. I think Cole's speed and power opened things up for Staal,and now there is no player on the Canes that has the tools that Cole had. I doubt seriously that Cole will ever be back, bur I think that Staal needs a winger with the kind of speed and power that can put the D on their heels,and open space for Staal.

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Centers aren't supposed to be playmakers, they are finishers. It's hard to be a playmaker when your zone of responsibility is center ice.

Several people would disagree with that statement. The Rangers specifically went after Richards to find a better playmaker for Gaborik this year. Dividends are already paying off.

Who are the best 2 playmakers in the NHL? Most would agree that Henrik and Crosby are easily #1 and #2. Both of them are Centers. Let's round out the top 5. Thornton, Datsyuk, Backstrom, Getzlaf, etc.

All of the best playmakers in the league are centers. Martin St. Louis is the only winger that can be considered with the aforementioned.

To stay on topic, I completely agree that Eric Staal is NOT a Center. I have been wanting him to move to wing for years. I'm not sure why the coaches think he will suddenly get better at faceoffs. The guy is in his 8th season in the NHL. He just isn't going to suddenly get better. He simply sucks at faceoffs. He is also lazier than Kovalchuk when it comes to backchecking. The guy has no business whatsoever playing Center. Bring Sutter up to center the first line:

Staal-Sutter-Poni/Dalpe

Ruutu-Jokinen-Skinner

Tlusty-Brent-LaRose/Poni

Stewart-Dwyer-Dalpe/Sutter/LaRose/Whatever/Doesn't Matter

Edited by Justin8649

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So I'll say this right off the bat: I'm an Eric Staal fan. This is a guy who has produced almost a point per game for his entire career. We've seen some guys in the league who can pull that off for a year or so and then they disappear. Staal is right up there with the elite in the league in terms of scoring, year after year. So if you're looking for someone to help your team put goals on the board, we've got one of the best in the league on our team.

Now, having said that, there are aspects of his game at which he is not the best, and I'd argue that through the first 8 games of this season he's regressed in some of these.

1. Faceoffs. His career FO % hovers around 47%, I believe. Last year he started off slow as well. I think he was actually under 40% early in the season but by the end of the season he had pulled it back in line with his career average. I do think that 47% is low for your starting 1st line center. Does that mean Staal should be shifted to wing? Probably not on its own.

2. +/- . Yes, he's at -10, which is disturbing. Plus the +15 and +4 he had in 08/09 and 09/10 were the only two seasons he's ever had a positive in this stat. And to be sure, your linemates and the defensive pairings that are on the ice with you play as much a role in this as anything. I think we can all say that he was a better two-way player in the first six years of his career than he has been in the last two. How much of that has to do with his changing role? Hard to say, but I could be swayed in believing that it's a contributing factor.

Now, I'm going to make a comparison: Randy Moss. As everyone knows, Moss is a tremendous talent, a guy who could stretch the D and threatened to score on every play. He kept defensive coordinators up at night. BUT it's clear that Randy didn't do certain things well. He didn't block. He took plays off when he wasn't an option on the play, etc.

Staal sorta reminds me of that. There are shifts where it just doesn't look like he's interested. There are times when he just doesn't look like he's engaged. I think one of the reasons why Skinner and LaRose and Gleason are so popular vs. Staal is that they look like they're willing to bleed out on the ice for this team, every time they step on the ice. Staal just doesn't appear to have the same emotional investment. That's not to say that he doesn't; but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve like some of the other guys.

But when you need a big play in a big game, you dial up Staal (exhibit A: Shock at the Rock).

The last thing I'll mention is something I've noticed from him the last few games, something I'll call the Glide and Reach. This drives me batty when my son does it, so if I'm Mo I'd be pulling out what was left of my hair when my All-Star first line center Captain of the team is doing it.

SKATE!!!

None of this, one hand on the stick, feet not moving, reaching out to try and poke the puck away. You *might* be successful at this once or twice in a season (see Sutter in the St. Louis game when he expertly poked the puck past the d-man and was off to the races). But Staal is doing it ALL THE TIME. Kids learn this early in their careers: keep your feet moving, skate through the man, two hands on the stick. Staal is doing none of these; his feet have stopped, he's reaching instead of engaging in physical contact and he has one hand on the stick. I realize he has an amazing reach with that long body and long arms, but c'mon, Captain: FUNDAMENTAL HOCKEY please.

And that's really it. I think Eric needs to get back to the basics. I will say that sticking him with Poni -- who isn't showing signs of being a Cole replacement -- and with Ruutu -- who looks like he's in a funk (offseason marriages tend to impact these guys, can you tell?) -- or with LaRose, who doesn't belong on the 1st line... all of that can definitely hurt Staal's production. But I think Eric could be creating chances for himself and his linemates if he was playing better, fundamentally sound hockey. He's not right now.

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Several people would disagree with that statement. The Rangers specifically went after Richards to find a better playmaker for Gaborik this year. Dividends are already paying off.

Who are the best 2 playmakers in the NHL? Most would agree that Henrik and Crosby are easily #1 and #2. Both of them are Centers. Let's round out the top 5. Thornton, Datsyuk, Backstrom, Getzlaf, etc.

All of the best playmakers in the league are centers. Martin St. Louis is the only winger that can be considered with the aforementioned.

To stay on topic, I completely agree that Eric Staal is NOT a Center. I have been wanting him to move to wing for years. I'm not sure why the coaches think he will suddenly get better at faceoffs. The guy is in his 8th season in the NHL. He just isn't going to suddenly get better. He simply sucks at faceoffs. He is also lazier than Kovalchuk when it comes to backchecking. The guy has no business whatsoever playing Center. Bring Sutter up to center the first line:

Staal-Sutter-Poni/Dalpe

Ruutu-Jokinen-Skinner

Tlusty-Brent-LaRose/Poni

Stewart-Dwyer-Dalpe/Sutter/LaRose/Whatever/Doesn't Matter

Your point is well taken, but I was speaking in general terms about centers. In general, most centers aren't both, and aren't expected to be. Never said they couldn't be play makers, but it's not a requisite to play the position. You can add a whole list of guys who play center that aren't.

All the best centers in the league aren't play makers. A guy like Stamkos for example, who you curiously left out of your top-5, who is a pure finisher, Toews, the list goes on.

One things for sure, as Remking pointed out, he's not playing like a first line center, or what you would expect from any center for that matter.

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The last thing I'll mention is something I've noticed from him the last few games, something I'll call the Glide and Reach. This drives me batty when my son does it, so if I'm Mo I'd be pulling out what was left of my hair when my All-Star first line center Captain of the team is doing it.

SKATE!!!

You made a lot of great points in your post, but I specifically agree with this. I didn't go into as much detail in my previous post, but this is a HUGE reason why Staal is a -10 right now. Every time he is backchecking, he has the opportunity to tie up a skater, but he just stops skating and starts whacking his stick at them while they fly farther away into the slot for a prime scoring opportunity.

In general, he hasn't been skating ANYWHERE on the ice. When the puck is leaving the offensive zone, he is sometimes just standing still behind the other team's net with nobody around. I hate to go off on a tangent, but it seems like the lack of skating is an entire team issue at this point. It's even worse on the man advantage and the 5 on 3s. EVERYBODY JUST STANDS STILL. The lack of skating on this team is so annoying. In every zone we look slower than the other team. We are chasing the other team in the neutral zone. Chasing them in the defensive zone while they cycle the puck all day long. Chasing them in the offensive zone with a weak and slow forecheck. All of this happens because guys are not moving without the puck. They only move when the puck comes to them. Maybe if our CAPTAIN would skate more/harder, the rest of the team would follow suit.

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I'm also a Staal fan, but I won't veer from criticism because of it. Staal isn't a play maker, and never has been. I don't think moving him to wing will suddenly make him one. On this team, his job is to finish chances and score goals. He's been right there with the top centers in the league consistently year after year. To be at his best, he needs effective players around him. I'd say that's suspect right now.

As far as the effort, Staal needs to fix Staal.

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THANK YOU! I've always said Staal is a winger! While it's true that a good portion of centers are finishers and not "play makers", they are ALL expected to play defense on the other end. Staal's +/- is horrible at this point in the season. Move him to wing and give him a center like Sutter, who is without a doubt the Canes best player right now!

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As to the playmaking part, it is the least important issue I raised so long as there is a playmaking winger there, and so long as Staal makes<i> some</i> plays for others (more than 1 per 8 games).

Just for fun, last year's top 30 assist leaders:

Center: 14

LWing: 5

RWing: 6

(5 were defensemen, including one Tomas Kaberle).

In the past Staal has put up some assists, and that part is fine in year's past and probably will come around. I actually think he's a pretty decent passer. But so far this year he's well below acceptable for even a finisher. He's on pace for TEN assists. Patrick Dwyer had 10 assists last year.

Yes I know it's early and he will get better at that part of the game. He better.

And as I put in my post I am a big Staal fan also. But he's the Captain and not only are some of these things not center-like, but they are not very Captain-like either. I think he will improve his game, but I also think he'd be better on the wing.

Edited by remkin

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Staal simply needs to pick up his game, and his legs. Right now it is not good, and his other weaknesses are made more glaring.

He's a winger playing center, and always has been.

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I don't think it is Staal. I think it is who he is playing with. Staal and Poni are alike. Go to the net look for tips, look to muscle in a puck in the crease and yes they both like that dreaded wrap around. I'm not defending Staal. Sometimes he looks like he takes a shift off or sometimes the night. What he misses is the speed and even play making of Cole. I'm not saying he misses Cole, I'm saying he misses that speed that opens up ice and the play making from the corner.

On the other side of the coin he is the leader of this team so he needs to figure it out.

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spezza would be awesome with staal... staal as i mentioned, uses that long reach, and its a lazy move..Give up a a dman [not gleason or allen] and YES, a first rounder, and bring a top line guy in.. we have to do this.. or we will be floundering near that 9th spot, driving us all crazy.. it is late early.. need a 4-2 record out of next 6, road game against flyers, and the home games, are against all top caliber teams, excluding sens.. 3-3, will be what we are.500, next 2 weeks will be telling tale.. i know, 2nd time i mentioned it. pull the trigger JR!

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spezza would be awesome with staal... staal as i mentioned, uses that long reach, and its a lazy move..Give up a a dman [not gleason or allen] and YES, a first rounder, and bring a top line guy in.. we have to do this.. or we will be floundering near that 9th spot, driving us all crazy.. it is late early.. need a 4-2 record out of next 6, road game against flyers, and the home games, are against all top caliber teams, excluding sens.. 3-3, will be what we are.500, next 2 weeks will be telling tale.. i know, 2nd time i mentioned it. pull the trigger JR!

Spezza is one of the few players that I would NOT want on Staal's line. He plays less defense than Staal. I remember a game last year against Ottawa, it was a 5 on 4 every single time Spezza was on the ice. He was constantly cherrypicking at the blueline..he might have even scored on a breakaway.

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So you replace your captain, and number one center, with you alternate captain, who's making third line money, all the while asking him (Staal) to play wing?

Edited by coastal_caniac

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Mo has a big dilemna here, brandon is our number one shutdown guy, and also he could be on top line, so what gives?? Whos the shutdown guy, if sutter goes to top line, and staal his wingman?? Top gun :) going on here .. just a little joke to ease the angst..

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