Pittsburgh Penguins: Jordan Staal Could Be a Good Fit

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 08: Jordan Staal
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 08: Jordan Staal /

Could Jordan Staal be heading back to the Pittsburgh Penguins?

With Nick Bonino off to Nashville, the Pittsburgh Penguins are in need of a third line center.  Matt Duchene’s name has been mentioned, but another name recently mentioned by DK Pittsburgh Sports is former Penguin Jordan Staal.

Staal was a crowd favorite in Pittsburgh when he was traded in 2012 to Carolina and has been a Hurricane since.  Let’s take a look at his career since he left Pittsburgh and what his future holds if he returns.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins /

Pittsburgh Penguins

A decrease of production in Carolina

Staal was a consistent third line center in his six seasons with the Penguins.  He averaged 41 points a season, even with his last two seasons cut short due to injury.  He had a career high 50 points in his last season in Pittsburgh and of course he won the Stanley Cup as a Pen in 2009.

Since playing in Carolina, things haven’t been nearly as great for Staal.  His average points per season has dropped to 30 points in five seasons.  His best season came last year when he tallied 38 points.

Carolina has also failed to reach the playoffs since Staal has been with the team, with their highest finish being 10th in the Eastern Conference in 2016.  Coincidentally, the Hurricanes last appearance in the playoffs was in 2009 when they were swept by the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.

What would a Staal return look like

Needless to say, things were better for Staal when he was in Pittsburgh. If he returned, it’s possible he could revive his career and possibly win another Stanley Cup.

Granted the slow down in Staal’s play in Carolina has not all been his fault.  In Carolina, he hasn’t had the best of linemates and has played as a first and second line center.  In Pittsburgh, he would play on the third line behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, just like his first stint with the Penguins.  The different line combinations could prove beneficial as he could be teamed up with Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin, or Patric Hornqvist.

The price for a trade with Carolina would be significantly lower than a trade for Duchene.  Most expect any trade for Duchene will involve a king’s ransom.  Staal will be 29 when this season starts, so he has some years left.  He could be the perfect fit and pick up where he left off five years ago.  Let us know what you think in the comments.