New dad Eric Staal
was back at practice today with a little extra bounce in his step.
“It was an incredible experience and tough to describe,” he said. “I’m just happy and excited that both mom and Parker are healthy and doing good.”
The Canes’ center missed Wednesday’s skate following the birth his first child, son Parker Lucas, one day earlier. He took his usual spot centering Ray Whitney and Erik Cole, with Brandon Sutter moved back to the “hopefuls” line with Zach Boychuk and Patrick Dwyer.
After practice, Staal fielded the expected quips from reporters regarding his hockey-rich bloodlines, specifically about what position his son would end up playing. Even though three forwards and one defenseman have already been drafted from the Staal family by NHL teams, Eric doubted that a new dimension would be added to the clan.
“He’ll be smart enough to stay away from the goalie gear,” he said, without any hesitation whatsoever.
Staal is expected to play on Friday night, when Paul Maurice plans on dressing the best team available to face Atlanta at home. That should include Jussi Jokinen, who seems to be back at full speed following a finger injury, but will not include Joni Pitkanen, who likely won’t be back at practice until next week.
Maurice didn’t say if Sutter would be included on Friday, although that seems somewhat doubtful given that the team’s clear intention of fielding what they believe will be the eventual NHL roster. To sit a veteran and play Sutter would be making quite a statement, although it is possible considering how highly the coaching staff and management thinks of the 20-year-old’s camp thus far.
Regardless of what happens Friday, Sutter should make the trip to Nashville the following day as the Canes intend to rest some of their regulars for the exhibition finale.