Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said today that negotiations with Eric Staal
's representation have been progressing to the point where he expects an announcement will be made in the very near future.
“It’s getting a lot closer," said Rutherford. "I’d like to think that this is going to get done maybe even in the next few days. I’m still talking to his agent and trying to get things finalized.”
Other star players around the NHL have been signing particularly long extensions lately - Alex Ovechkin's 13-year contract and Rick DiPietro's 15-year deal, immediately come to mind. Even Ryan Malone got a seven-year contract from the Lightning this summer.
The good news for Hurricanes fans is that Rutherford intends to sign Staal to such a deal, acknowledging that he is within the neighborhood of seven or eight years.
”It says a lot, one for his commitment to being here because he obviously has options, and two, it speaks to what the franchise wants to do," said Rutherford. "We want to tie up our best player, and hopefully we can do that.”
As for the timing of the extension, Staal's current contract, a three-year deal worth $4.5 million signed after the 2006-07 Stanley Cup season, doesn't expire until next summer. However, Rutherford said it was important to agree to the contract beforehand.
“Players like him, when they get to the point that their contract is up, they get offer sheets," said Rutherford. "I think that if he was free next July 1, even though he’s a restricted free agent, there would be a good chance that someone would give him an offer sheet. But it’s not about what other people are doing, it’s about what we think of him. He’s got a great future ahead of him and this is a player that should be rewarded.”