New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said his ongoing negotiations for a long-term contract will not affect how he approaches the 2014-15 season.
30 IN 15 SEASON PREVIEW PACKAGE
This month, NHL.com will put two NHL teams in the preview spotlight each day with a package of stories providing an in-depth look at the roster and potential fortunes as the 2014-15 season approaches. SEE SCHEDULE ›
"I don't think it changes anything for me," he told NorthJersey.com after the Rangers' first training camp practice Friday. "I approach training camp the same way I always have. I'm going to work hard and try to help my team be successful again. To me that won't change anything. I'm excited and optimistic for the start of the season."
The 27-year-old is entering the final season of a five-year contract and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Staal watched what goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, defenseman Dan Girardi and forward Ryan Callahan went through last season while they were working toward extensions and said he wasn't sure if he would want to negotiate during the season like they did.
"Obviously you want to avoid that type of situation," he said. "I don't think it's helpful to anyone when it goes that far. Hopefully that won't happen and we'll find some common ground and move on."
A new contract also could help his candidacy to be the Rangers' next captain. Coach Alain Vigneault said he would make a decision on the captaincy at the end of training camp. The Rangers have not had a captain since Callahan was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 5.
"You want to be a captain and a leader," Staal said. "I think with the guys we have in the room, there's not going to be a bad decision made, whichever way they go. As far as the contract goes, that’s not a question for me. Obviously, that’s out of my hands."