Center Eric Staal and the Minnesota Wild agreed to terms on a three-year, $10.5 million contract Friday. The contract has an average annual value of $3.5 million.
The New York Rangers acquired Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. However, he struggled to score in New York, like he had in recent years with Carolina, the only team he had played for prior to the trade.
"I'm super excited. At this point in my career with what's gone on in the last two years, it wasn't about the money and chasing the big next deal," Staal said on Sportsnet. "It was about being in the right opportunity with the right fit as a hockey player and for my family. I know they're going to give me the opportunity. They are all the things I want to be a part of.
"I was looking for an opportunity to play a lot and play a role that I know and feel that I still can. [Coach Bruce] Boudreau and I had a great conversation and I'm super excited to be joining the Wild next year."
Staal was better than a point-a-game player during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but his offensive numbers have gone down steadily. He had 10 goals and 33 points in 63 games with the Hurricanes, then scored three goals and finished with six points in 20 games with the Rangers, who counted on him for secondary scoring. Staal was scoreless with a minus-7 rating in the Rangers' five-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Staal has never approached the 100 points he put up in 2005-06, when he helped the Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup championship. But he had seven consecutive seasons (2005-12) with at least 70 points and has scored 21 or more goals nine times, most recently in 2014-15. For his career, Staal has 325 goals and 456 assists in 929 games.
Part of Staal's problem is that his shot totals are down; the 199 shots on goal he took in 2015-16 were the fewest he's had in a full season since he was a rookie in 2004. His 6.5 shooting percentage was a career low. Staal will turn 32 on Oct. 29, and his days as a No. 1 center appear to be over.