Jordan Staal’s birthday was Sunday.
By looking at him on the ice, it’s hard to believe he just turned 18.
At 6 feet, 4 inches and 215 lbs., Staal certainly has the physical skills to play in the NHL, even if he’s young enough to be a senior in high school.
Nevertheless, the talented youngster, drafted second overall by the Penguins this year, is hoping to carve out a roster spot in Pittsburgh.
“It’s anyone’s goal to make the team. I will play wherever they want me to play. If that’s back in Peterborough, I’ll go back there,” he said. “But, I’d really like to play here. I am working hard to get there.”
Staal has impressed so far at Penguins rookie camp.
“I am trying to get in my own play and just trying to fit in. I feel pretty good out here,” he said. “I think I am fitting in pretty well. I’ll just keep it going and see what happens.”
Rookie camp wraps up Tuesday. However, Staal will have more chances to prove himself as he is invited to the Penguins’ training camp, which opens Friday on Mellon Arena’s ice.
“I am really enjoying the guys and meeting new people. I have been having a lot of fun. It’s been tough, but I think it better prepares you for the main camp,” he said. “I am starting to get in my own groove and get more confidence here and there. Hopefully, I can keep building on that and keep going.”
The speed of the game has been the biggest adjustment Staal has noticed so far.
“Everything is quicker out there, so I have to think faster and skate faster. I think, overall, everything has to be quicker,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed myself and I am starting to have some fun out there now.”
While on the ice, Staal can’t avoid comparisons to his older brother, Eric – who won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes – and the inevitable media questions that follow.
“I can’t blame my brother for doing so well. If that means answering a few more questions, I don’t mind,” Jordan said. “I have the patented answers, so I think I will be all right.”
Staal hopes to get his name etched on the Stanley Cup some day, too. He knows the young talent in Pittsburgh will give the team a good chance to do achieve that goal in the future.
“It’s a good young team and they are really preparing for the next couple years,” he said. “Hopefully they can make it to the Stanley Cup. I am just happy to be a part of this organization and I am really looking forward to the next couple years.”