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Here’s what Eric Staal is looking for in free agency

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 29: Eric Staal #12 of the New York Rangers skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on February 29, 2016 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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You won’t find many free agents with as mysterious a path as the one that’s ahead for Eric Staal.

How much of a step back will Staal be willing to take following a whopping $57.75 million contract? Will a tepid rental run with the New York Rangers and lean years with the Carolina Hurricanes make for a really weak market?

Staal’s agent Rick Curran faces a delicate balancing act in managing offers and Staal’s pride. He shed some interesting light on the situation to’s Tom Gulitti on Tuesday.

Who is interested

Most interestingly, a Hurricanes reunion isn’t totally out of the question:

Carolina leaned toward nostalgia by retaining Cam Ward, yet initial indications were that they wouldn’t do so with Staal.

Curran says there are three-to-four suitors overall, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

What Staal wants

We know that E. Staal is looking for the following factors, via reports from Shannon and Gulitti:

  • He wants a top-six role and wants to play as a center.
  • To help his cause, Staal isn’t expecting a long-term contract.

Of course, the most interesting question (“Can Staal stomach a huge drop in money?”) wasn’t answered.

A quick look at Staal’s value

Again, Staal was a borderline disaster with the Rangers, especially in failing to generate a single point in New York’s five-game playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He was also the face of a Hurricanes franchise that didn’t get a sniff of the playoffs in ages.

Simply put, he struggled to justify his enormous former contract. That said, if you can look beyond declining scoring numbers, his possession stats indicate that he can at least help someone.

Curran deserves every penny from his cut of a deal if he can get Staal a generous dollar amount and the prominent role he craves.