As Staal prepared to return against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday after missing five games with an upper-body injury, he admitted it was upsetting to hear the winless Hurricanes already being linked to the 2015 NHL Draft lottery and a shot a McDavid as the consensus No. 1 pick.
"A little premature," Staal, who turns 30 on Wednesday, said after the morning skate. "Yeah it bothers me, but our record is 0-fer so it's not that surprising at the same time."
Getting Staal back should help the Hurricanes when they try to avoid a winless October and stop building on a franchise-worst 0-5-2 start under new coach Bill Peters.