But the question that can be answered right now is, was this a good trade for the Penguins? The answer is clearly YES.
Jordan Staal spent six years here and helped bring Pittsburgh the Stanley Cup in 2009. We have no animosity toward the guy. We couldn't care less that he doesn't want to play in Pittsburgh. We weren't offended that he turned down a massive contract. He wants to play with his brother. He wants to have a more central role in a team moving forward. He deserves it. These last couple years, he has been a top-2-lines center playing on the third line, making third-line money.
When word of Staal's rejection of Shero's offer was leaked, we immediately asked ourselves who it benefits, especially given the timing so close to the draft. Why would the Pens leak it? Why would Staal's camp leak it?
Can't find a reason for the Penguins to have leaked it. Without the contract offer being public, the Pens could freely negotiate with every team that was interested in Staal. It would've given Shero unlimited possibilities.
But then you look at Staal's camp. Why would they have leaked it? Well, it's interesting that the Staal contract news and Staal's preference for Carolina both came out on the same day. It forced the Pens' hand to deal with Carolina, and the draft was the perfect time and opportunity for a trade to go down.
The Staal contract rejection immediately turned next year into a lame-duck season for Staal if he had stayed. It would've been way too much of a distraction. And that's not to mention Staal tearing his ACL or something bizarre that would lessen his trade value. Anything could happen.
Shero's time to strike was the draft this past weekend. We don't know anything about how NHL GMs negotiate, but we do know how to negotiate in generality. You realize what you want or what you think you'll have to twist arms a little to get, and then ask for way, way more. As the negotiation goes on, you start whittling down to what you initially wanted anyway.
Here's the conversation.
Hey, Jim. Ray here. Staal has turned emo, and apparently he wants to go to Carolina and play with Eric. We're gonna be nice to you here. For Staal, we need Justin Faulk, Brandon Sutter, and your first-round pick."
*vomits* Can't do that, Ray.
Maaan. You're killing me. Okay. Here's what I'll do. I'll drop Faulk, but you give me Sutter, the pick, and I'd still like one of your young d-men. You know I love defensemen.
Ray, listen –
Jim, you sooner you get Jordan in your building, the better. Having Jordan makes your team a legitimate contender overnight. Imagine the excitement building around the team heading into the fall.
You're killing me with Sutter. The draft pick is reasonable considering you're giving us an already-established 2nd-overall pick in effect while you have no idea how your8th-overall pick will turn out. Let's pull the trigger on this. I think both teams have become better as part of this deal.
Okay, man. Peace.
That's basically it. The one remaining question in everything is why Carolina even felt the need to trade for Staal this summer when they wouldn't have to give up any assets when they sign him next offseason. Only two things we can thing of. The pressure on Carolina management to become a contender ASAP and Shero calling other teams as it was reported.
Again, in the immediate wake of this trade, it's impossible to try to figure out who won the trade. Carolina got better in acquiring Jordan Staal. The Pens got "better" in the fact that they now won't have to deal with drama around Jordan Staal all next season.
Pens have been insanely blessed in having three game-changing centers. Got a Cup out of it in '09. But having something like that long-term just wasn't in the cards. Brandon Sutter is no joke, either. It sort of sank in the day after the Staal trade that "Holy shit. Brandon Sutter is the Penguins' third-line center." The Penguins are still built down the middle. Sutter may even explode against third-line matchups in Pittsburgh. Who knows.
In all our years of being Pens' fans, we've never seen calmness like this when a big-name player got traded. Staal isn't at fault; he deserves to be "the guy" on a team. Shero isn't at fault; his hand was forced.
There is sadness around the exodus of Jordan Staal:
That's to be expected.
While I stood and cheered like a maniac at the draft when the Staal trade was announced (and cheered even more loudly when GM Ray Shero publicly thanked Staal for his time in Pittsburgh), I didn’t feel sad. I was wearing my Staal shersey. I wore it because deep in my heart, I knew that it would be my last time donning it inside of Consol Energy Center.On the way out of the arena, I told my son that we needed to take one last photo with the Staal cutout. He didn’t realize as we were all cheering what was going on. He asked why. I explained to him that Jordan Staal isn’t a Penguin anymore. He burst into tears. “But Jordan Staal is my favorite player, Mom! I’m going to miss him. I won’t get to see him play no more!” Heartbroken.
But it's a business. As Pens fans, we can all take solace in the fact that the Pens' GM is not an idiot. It could be said he got way more than he should've gotten for Jordan Staal considering all the circumstances. Instead of bitching and moaning about our GM's ineptitude, by the end of the night on Friday night, everyone had their eyes set on the prizes becoming available on July 1.
Pens are in a great position to snatch up either Parise or Suter. Or both. In the coming days, we'll take a look at the paths Shero may take when he starts offering money.