Report: Leafs Would Be Interested In Eric Staal If Available In Trade

Eric StaalThe Eric Staal trade rumors/speculation involving the Toronto Maple Leafs have been around for years, and they don’t seem to be going away.

The Carolina Hurricanes are 0-2-1 to start the season following Tuesday night’s shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres. It’s very possible that the Hurricanes will finish at or near the bottom of the standings, which would put them in a position to win the draft lottery and potentially select Connor McDavid with the No. 1 overall pick. If the Hurricanes decide to break up their core and stockpile assets for the future, at least one team would be willing to talk about a possible Staal trade.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday night’s edition of “Insider Trading” that the Leafs would be interested in Staal if he became available.

“Well, very interested, but the key word is ‘if,’ if Eric Staal is available,” Dreger said of the Leafs.

“But I know this: The Toronto Maple Leafs have had discussions with the Carolina Hurricanes in the past, most recently in the summer about the potential availability of the Carolina Hurricanes captain. Now, the asking price if Eric Staal is available at any point this season prior to the NHL trade deadline is going to be enormous. It would include a first-round pick, you’re talking about either Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri because a center would have to go back, and likely (defenseman) Jake Gardiner. But I believe that’s a price Toronto would pay.”

Toronto has lacked a No. 1 center for a long time. Staal, at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds with top-end offensive skill, still is a legitimate first-line center. With that said, his scoring production was a bit disappointing last season (61 points in 79 games), although he does have seven 70-plus-point and eight 20-plus-goal seasons on his resume.

The issue with acquiring Staal isn’t his talent. It’s his gigantic contract, which includes an $8.25 million salary-cap hit through the 2015-16 campaign. His salary this season is $9.25 million, and it climbs to $9.5 million in 2015-16, per CapGeek. That’s a lot of money for a 29-year-old veteran with about a decade of NHL experience.

Photo via USA TODAY Sports Images/Rob Kinnan

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