Pittsburgh selected the talented center with the second-overall pick in Saturday’s NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
“You’re pretty nervous coming into the draft and you don’t know where you’re going to end up,” he said. “I am just happy to be a part of this organization and hopefully I can really step up in the next couple of years and be a part of this team.”
Staal is another top young talent in a Penguins arsenal that includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Whitney, Noah Welch and Colby Armstrong – among others.
“We want to build a good organization on and off the ice. We have these pieces in place. I want to have good people around me and good people on the ice. We’re going to make good personnel decisions,” Penguins General Manager Ray Shero said. “I want this organization to be about more than just one or two or three players. I want it to be about a team concept and we’re looking forward to having Jordan with us for a long time and winning the Stanley Cup together.”
Staal, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, is listed as a center, but he doesn’t mind playing on a wing.
“I wouldn’t mind as long as I get the chance to play. I will play wherever they put me,” he said. “I am looking for the opportunity.”
He hopes the opportunity comes quickly. Even though he won’t turn 18 until Sept. 10, Jordan is already ahead of where Eric was at the same age, according to many.
“Next year, I think I am pretty confident I can jump in,” he said. “It’s a long shot, but as long as I get my chance, I think I’ll jump on the opportunity.”
Staal, a 17-year-old, racked up 68 points (28+40) in 68 games for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. He helped guide the Petes to an OHL title and the Memorial Cup playoffs.
Staal is the third in a talented line of siblings. Eldest brother Eric was selected second-overall in 2003 by Carolina – after the Penguins drafted goaltender Fleury. Eric just won a Stanley Cup championship with the Hurricanes this year. A second Staal, Marc, was picked 12th overall a year ago by the Rangers.
The family isn’t done producing talent just yet. The youngest brother – Jared – is a highly-touted prospect. The 15-year-old forward will play in Sudbury in the OHL this season.
“Little J is pretty excited to head over there and show what he has,” Jordan said. “We’re all just trying to play our best hockey and go from there.”