OTTAWA -- Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, who has spent his entire NHL career with the franchise, said he wouldn't be crushed if he is either traded or can't come to terms on a new contract with the team.
Staal, 31, is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and that has led to speculation he could be dealt by the Feb. 29 NHL Trade Deadline.
Staal prefaced his comments about his future by saying first and foremost he is focused on trying to help the Hurricanes make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Staal was the Hurricanes' first-round pick (No. 2) in the 2003 NHL Draft. When asked if it is important to him to have the chance to play his entire career with one franchise, he replied:
"It would be nice, for sure. I don't know anything different. I was drafted by this organization. I won a Stanley Cup here [in 2006] as a young player and committed long term to being here. I know no other way. As an NHL player, not a lot of people can say that, but the reality is it's a business.
"There's decisions that are made as you move forward. I'm at the end of my contract and we'll see how it shakes out here in the next little bit. I'm not going to be crushed if a decision is made and I'm moving on for a different opportunity, but at the same time right now my focus is on helping this team win games and picking up points, because we're learning how to win and we're learning how to get better every day. It's been fun to see some of these young guys develop and improve and kind of see it on a daily basis."
Video: PIT@CAR: E. Staal slams the puck past Fleury
Staal said he and the Hurricanes will have a clearer idea of where they are in the process over the next two weeks. The Hurricanes are 10-3-3 since Jan. 8 and are two points out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference going into their game Thursday against the Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-SE, RDS, TSN5, NHL.TV).
Staal, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, said if the Hurricanes can continue to win, the situation will take care of itself.
"Yeah, [winning] is going to make it clearer as we go," he said. "Obviously, decisions are going to have to be made, and I haven't been approached about waiving anything at this point.
"There has been (contract) dialogue both ways. But at the end of the day, it's going to matter about where this team is at and where they think we're at. We're making steps in the right direction as a group. There's better days ahead for this organization, no question.
"We'll see how it plays out in the next couple of weeks, but right now we've got to keep trying to win games and picking up points because everybody else seems to be doing the same, and if we want to be in the thick of it we've got to win on a nightly basis and tonight's a great chance for us."