The New York Rangers pulled off a coup on Sunday, nabbing forward Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes for Finnish prospect Aleksi Saarela and second-round draft picks in 2016 and 2017. Staal, who spent his entire 13-year career with Carolina and has been their franchise player during that time, is scheduled to hit free agency after the season and the Hurricanes wanted to begin building for the future with a player who might not resign anyway. In making the deal, Carolina agrees to pay roughly half of his $9.5 million salary for the season.

Staal had a no-trade clause, and had only agreed to waive it if it meant going to the Rangers, so while the return might not have been as much as Carolina would have liked to receive for a player who meant so much to their franchise, it was a better option than simply letting him walk after the season ended. At age 31, Staal comes to New York with 322 goals and 453 assists in 909 career games. He may not be the offensive threat he once was, but he could help spark the Rangers, who in turn could help him regain his point-producing touch. Staal has scored 30-plus goals five times in his career, is the Hurricanes career leader in nearly every category, and the four-time All-Star has 10 goals and 23 assists in 63 games this season.

Staal, who won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, also adds playoff experience for the Rangers. He has played in 43 postseason games with 19 goals and 24 assists. Having his point-per-game strength in the playoffs adds to a team that fell just short against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals last spring. The Rangers currently trail first-place Washington by 16 points in the Metropolitan Division standings. Staal also leaves one younger brother, Jordan Staal, and will be united with another brother, Marc Staal, who plays defense for the Rangers. A fourth Staal brother, Jared, is playing with South Carolina of the ECHL and had been in the Hurricanes’ organization.

“Eric has been the face of this franchise for a long time, and we thank him for his dedication, leadership and many contributions,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. “We felt this was an important opportunity for us to continue our work in building an organization that can consistently compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs.” The trade leaves goalie Cam Ward — who earned the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2006 as the franchise won its only Stanley Cup — as the only Hurricane left from any of the club’s playoff teams.

“We felt like he was one of the best, if not the best, player available on the market to give us what we’re looking for in our top nine,” Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said of the deal. “And that’s why we made the move.”

In making the move the Rangers added another veteran presence on the ice and in the locker room. It is still unknown where he will fit in, as top-scorer Rick Nash is currently injured. Mats Zuccarello projects to get bumped to the second line for Staal, pairing him with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, with Nash’s return presumably bumping Krieder to the second line as well, giving the Rangers two potent scoring lines of Nash-Stepan-Staal and Zuccarello-Derek Brassard-Kreider.

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