Derrick Pouliot (C), eighth overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, poses with team co-owner Mario Lemieux (2nd R) and other team representatives on stage during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
PITTSBURGH — Ray Shero made a lot of hometown fans happy when he pulled the trigger on the most significant trade of the opening day of the National Hockey League entry draft Friday.
Twenty-four hours after Jordan Staal rejected a 10-year contract offer from the Penguins, Shero traded him to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, defence prospect Brian Dumoulin and the Hurricanes’ eighth-overall pick, which Pittsburgh used to select Portland Winterhawks defenceman Derrick Pouliot.
The trade announcement was greeted by a loud cheer from the many Penguins fans in the Consol Energy Center. While the 23-year-old Staal has been a popular player, fan sentiment turned against him quickly when news leaked out that he had rejected the long-term deal.
Rumours immediately began flying that he would be going to Carolina, where his brother Eric is a centre. Shero and Carolina GM Jim Rutherford began talking in mid-afternoon Friday and agreed to the deal just before the draft began.
“Jordan is an elite two-way player who possesses a rare combination of speed, size, scoring ability and defensive responsibility,” Rutherford said. “For his young age, he has a wealth of NHL experience, including winning the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. And he is obviously a natural fit for our team in joining our captain, his older brother Eric.”
Jordan Staal, 23, completed his sixth NHL season in 2011-12, posting 25 goals and setting career highs in assists (25) and points (50) despite playing in just 62 of Pittsburgh’s 82 regular-season games. The Thunder Bay, Ont., native added six goals and three assists to lead the Penguins in scoring in their six-game, first-round playoff series against Philadelphia.
But Staal was stuck in a role as the No. 3 centre in Pittsburgh behind Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who are merely two of the best players in the world when they’re healthy.
There were no shortage of trade rumours circulating around the draft, including one improbable scenario which would have seen Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban sent to Edmonton in return for the No. 1 overall selection in the draft.
In one of the more interesting deals, the Dallas Stars sent Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals for Cody Eakin and a draft choice. The deal had some people wondering whether Bob Gainey might have had a hand in the decision because he traded Ribeiro from Montreal to Dallas for Janne Niinimaa, a defenceman who was well past his expiry date. In fact, the Stars had been shopping Ribeiro long before Gainey returned to the Lone Star State as an adviser.
Roberto Luongo, who has been reduced to a backup role in Vancouver, remained a member of the Canucks on Friday. Boston also held on to goalie Tim Thomas, who seems to be backing away from his plan to take a year off to spend more time with his family. Thomas has waived his no-trade clause.
Also staying put for the time being are Columbus forward Rick Nash and Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan. The problem with moving these players is that their current teams are looking for value in return while the teams which covet them are looking for bargains.
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