On this year’s NHL draft day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it was not only fresh-faced rookies that will be donning new jerseys for the upcoming season. Major trades were also happening at the forefront, highlighted by the departure of Jordan Staal, being traded away to the Carolina Hurricanes, ironically, in the arena where his now former team, the Penguins play.
Although the Leafs and a few others were reportedly in the fray trying to acquire the 6’4’’ centreman, there was one team above all that Staal wanted to go to, and that was the Carolina Hurricanes, home to 2006 Stanley Cup winner – and older brother – Eric Staal. The two teams struck a deal in which, in exchange for Staal, the Penguins acquired a slew of young talent in centre, Brandon Sutter, defenseman, Brian Dumoulin, and the Hurricanes’ eighth pick in the 2012 draft, which was used to select another defenseman: 18-year old, Derrick Pouliot.
In Sutter, the Pens received a big, hard-working centre that fits much better in a third line role than Staal and in Dumoulin and Pouliot, two high-ceiling defensemen, which the Pens sorely lack. After Kris Letang, there wasn’t much on the back-end for the Penguins.
At first it would seem like a surprise that one would not want to sign long-term for solid money with a team that is consistently a threat to win the Stanley Cup out of the Eastern Conference, but when you’ve got Evgeni Malkin and Sid the Kid playing in the lineup with you, your minutes (especially being another centre) are going to be limited. Someone with his talent deserves to play those top line minutes and a trade was the only option. Now teamed up with older brother, Eric, the Hurricanes’ topline is sure to be dominant and instantly makes the team one to watch closely this upcoming season.
And to close off the draft week another band of brothers was united as Brian Burke and the Leafs acquired centre James van Riemsdyk for defenseman Luke Schenn, who will now play with his younger brother, Brayden in the City of Brotherly Love, no less.
Burke had been linked to trying to get van Riemsdyk for months up to this point, a strong, power forward that was in missing up front for the Leafs. He comes to Toronto coming off a year in which he missed the majority of the season with a broken foot that required surgery to repair; it will be interesting to see how it holds up throughout the 2012-13 campaign. And injuries aside, JVR still isn’t that first line centre that’s missing between Lupul and Kessel.
The winner of this trade is hard to determine; the Leafs got a power forward and the Flyers got a power defenseman in Luke Schenn. Luke Schenn will fit in nicely in the top two defense pairings in Philly, whereas van Riemsdyk will fit in nicely in the shark tank that is the Toronto media. I mean, be a nice fit in the Leafs’ top six forwards.
Draft days are turning into the trade deadline 2.0 after the Flyers got rid of the faces of the franchise, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards last year and now Staal, who was so valuable for the Penguins, going to play with his brother. It is a great way to cap off the summer and with the free agency period beginning on July 1, there should be more surprises in store with more players wearing different coloured jerseys out on the ice come October.