Jared Staal may have been selected later than any of his brothers in their respective draft years, but he certainly is a valuable commodity to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Jared’s brothers Eric (No. 2, 2003), Marc (No. 12, 2005) and Jordan (No. 2, 2006) were first-round picks, while Jared lasted into the second round (No. 49).
Unlike his brothers, Jared didn’t attend the draft because he didn’t expect to be taken early and didn’t want to be let down.
"I think it was in our best interest," Staal said, "just not having the greatest shot of going in the top 20 and going through all of that and not getting disappointed."
Despite his famous last name, Jared wants to differentiate himself from his brothers.
"I don't want to be known as just the youngest Staal brother," Jared told The Edmonton Sun. "There is always pressure to be like my brothers, but I just want to be my own player. Parts of my game are similar to all of them, but I am my own player."
Being the youngest brother, Jared had some difficulty playing with his older brothers while growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Jared had to work for his opportunities, but he remained close to his older siblings.
"Sometimes it's tough," Jared said. "I don't think I touched the puck too much on the ice, but it was a lot of fun. I couldn't ask for anything more growing up as a brother. To have three older brothers that were good at hockey, it was good competition. It was a lot of fun. We're all really close and it's been good."
Jared won’t pass on an opportunity to mock one of his brothers when he sees them take a misstep in the NHL.
"I think if I see them maybe in the highlights or something and they had a breakaway or made some play and missed the net or something, just jab them a little bit and make fun of them about that," Jared said. "But I think just the little things about hockey. Just get under their skin, it's pretty funny."
"I don't want to be known as just the youngest Staal brother.There is always pressure to be like my brothers, but I just want to be my own player. Parts of my game are similar to all of them, but I am my own player"
-- Jared Staal
Soon enough some of Jared’s older brothers will be able to make fun of him for his NHL miscues, but while Jared carries the Staal name, NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire warns that this Staal is different from the others.
"With the great Staal family reputation and the high expectations brought on by his brothers, Jared is coming into his own," McGuire said. "He’s just growing into his 'big Staal body,' which is very similar to that of his brothers. He comes off the wing with the desire to go to the net and that, I think, will continue to grow and he's going to continue to develop on into the NHL.
"We caution to not weigh (the family name) too heavily. I think it's a factor that should be brought in, but how far into the inner ring do you bring it? Visually, genetically, he looks like (his brothers). He's got his summertime with his brothers where he is going to get a depth of advice that other prospects aren't going to get. And that's significant. In my mind he's right where he should be (with his development) and he'll continue to gain experience in Sudbury."
Jared debuted in the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves -- his brother Marc was the captain -- and had three points in 63 games in 2006-07. Last season he tied for the Wolves lead with 21 goals and was second with 49 points despite playing for the team with the fewest goals and worst record in the OHL.
Jared said his vision and physicality are the strengths of his game.
"I think I see the ice pretty well, that is probably my biggest strength," he said. "I know where to be at the right time. I think I'm maybe classified as a power forward. I try to use my body to the best of my ability -- maybe not crush guys, but just bump guys off the puck, protect the puck and just see the ice pretty well."
He could become the fourth Staal brother to make the NHL, but he could have one mark all to himself -- he’ll be the first to play in the Western Conference.