Ever since Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year, $60 million contract extension from Pittsburgh last June, leading to a blockbuster draft day trade to the Hurricanes, Rangers fans have been panicked about Marc Staal’s desire to join his three brothers in Carolina.
Marc himself has never given us any reason to believe he’s anything but thrilled to be playing in New York, but it’s of course not a giant leap to think the four Staal brothers have discussed playing together.
With Marc set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, many nervous Rangers fans have suggested that GM Glen Sather phone Carolina GM Jim Rutherford and see what he can get for Marc now, well in advance of the end of Marc’s contract, before his trade value depreciates.
There are a couple of problems with this:
1) Marc’s value is probably at an all-time low right now. That could change quickly once the season starts, but as of now Marc is coming off a significant concussion that cost him the second half of the 2011-2012 season, followed by a gruesome eye injury that sliced Marc’s 2012 season in half and left him unlikely to ever regain full vision. All indications are that Marc will be ready to go at training camp, but right now he is damaged goods. If the Rangers were remotely curious about dealing Marc, it’d be impossible to get a fair return.
2) Before his eye injury, Marc may have been playing the best hockey of his career. He was unquestionably New York’s best defenseman and was an invaluable member of the club. Though his health is now a major concern, it still makes little sense for a team that fancies itself a contender to deal away its best blueliner. Never mind the difficulty in getting equal value for a player as valuable to the Rangers as Marc – it was easy to see the gaping hole his absence left in New York’s rearguard last year (unless you thought Matt Gilroy deserved an extension…). Carolina won’t be giving up young star Justin Faulk, so there’s no way for the Rangers to move Marc to Carolina without destroying the carefully built roster.
There’s no denying that Carolina has to be considered a player for Marc in the next couple of years, but if Marc really does intend to bolt from Broadway, it’s very likely that he’ll communicate his intentions to Sather beforehand just as Jordan did in Pittsburgh. If that happens, then we can start talking about a trade in earnest. But until then, the Rangers need to continue to plan around their stud D-man as any top team would. Playing the what if game is a normal behavior during the dog days of summer, but Marc’s future is of little concern to Rangers brass right now, as it should be.