***COURTESY NEW YORK RANGERS***
Blueshirts trade Aleksi Saarela and two second round picks to Carolina
NEW YORK, February 28, 2016 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has acquired forward Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Aleksi Saarela, a second round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and a second round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Staal, 31, has skated in 909 career NHL games over parts of 12 seasons, all with Carolina, registering 322 goals and 453 assists for 775 points, along with 678 penalty minutes. Staal is one of only two NHL players who registered at least 30 assists and 50 points in 10 consecutive seasons from 2005-06 – 2014-15 (along with Martin St. Louis), and he is one of seven NHL players who have tallied 50 or more points in at least 10 different seasons since he entered the NHL in 2003-04. In addition, Staal is one of three NHL players who have skated in at least 900 games and have tallied at least 300 goals, 400 assists, and 700 points since the start of the 2003-04 season (along with Jarome Iginla and Patrick Marleau), and he is one of six NHL players who skated in at least 70 games in every season which was 82 games in length from 2003-04 – 2014-15. He ranks second in the NHL in shots on goal (3,033), ranks fourth in games played, ranks eighth in goals, ranks 10th in power play goals (105), is tied for 10th in shorthanded goals (16), and ranks 11th in points since 2003-04.
The 6-4, 205-pounder has skated in 43 career NHL playoff games, registering 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points, along with 12 penalty minutes. He is one of four NHL players who have averaged at least 1.00 points per game (min. 40 playoff games played) since 2003-04 (along with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Claude Giroux). In 2006, Staal helped the Hurricanes win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, as he led the NHL in assists (19) and points (28), and tied for third in the NHL in goals (nine) during the playoffs. Staal also helped Carolina advance to the Eastern Conference Final in 2009, as he led the Hurricanes with 10 goals and 15 points in 18 playoff contests.
Staal has skated in 63 games with Carolina this season, registering 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points, along with 32 penalty minutes. Staal was tied for the team lead in assists and even strength assists (17), ranked second in takeaways (45), ranked third in even strength points (26) and shots on goal (159), was tied for fifth in points, ranked sixth in goals, and was tied for sixth in power play points (seven) this season. He also led Carolina forwards in average ice time (19:17) in 2015-16. Staal has posted a 53.7 faceoff win percentage this season (323-for-601). He skated in his 900th career NHL game on Feb. 7 at Montreal, becoming the third player to skate in at least 900 games with the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise (along with Ron Francis and Glen Wesley).
Staal skated in 77 games with the Hurricanes during the 2014-15 season, registering 23 goals and 31 assists for 54 points, along with 41 penalty minutes. He led the Hurricanes in goals, points, and shots on goal (244), tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (four) and power play goals (seven), ranked second in assists and power play points (17), ranked third in power play assists (10), and ranked fifth on the team – and led team forwards – in average ice time (18:50). In addition, Staal won 51.3% of faceoffs he took (343-for-669), marking the fourth consecutive season in which he posted a faceoff win percentage of 50.0 or better (2011-12 – 2014-15). He recorded a point in 40 of 77 contests and posted 10 multi-point games.
Throughout his NHL career, Staal has received numerous awards and honors. He is a four-time NHL All-Star (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11), and he was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 NHL All-Star Game. He served as Carolina’s captain for parts of the last seven seasons after he was named the 13th captain in the history of the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise on Jan. 20, 2010. Staal was selected to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team in 2005-06, as he established career-highs in goals (45), assists (55), and points (100).
Internationally, the Thunder Bay, Ontario native has represented Canada in several tournaments. Staal is a member of the “Triple Gold Club”, as he has won a gold medal at the IIHF World Championship (2007) and at the Olympics (2010) in addition to winning the Stanley Cup. He also helped Canada capture a silver medal at the 2008 IIHF World Championship by tallying seven points (four goals, three assists) in eight contests during the tournament. Most recently, Staal registered three assists in eight games while serving as the captain of Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Championship.
Staal was selected by the Hurricanes in the first round, second overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Saarela was selected by the Rangers in the third round, 89th overall, of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.