Leading up to the April 12 NHL trade deadline, we're looking at potential targets on the market and why they may or may not fit the Flyers' plans.
- Age: 34
- Height: 6-4
- Weight: 209
- Team: Detroit Red Wings
- 2020-21 cap hit: $5.7 million
Staal is an accomplished veteran who has 933 regular-season games and 107 postseason appearances on his résumé.
The lefty-shot blueliner is a quality defender. With a good stick and long reach, he's proficient in quelling plays and winning 1-on-1 battles. He has played 18:03 minutes per game in his first season with the Red Wings.
Staal is not offensive-minded or in his prime — he has scored 20 or more points once since 2011-12 and is 34 years old — but he has made a career out of being effective in the neutral and defensive zones. With the NHL's seventh-worst goal differential at minus-24, the Flyers are starving for improved defense and experience on the back end, not scoring.
One of Staal's biggest boosts to the Flyers would be at shorthanded. Staal has been a major contributor on the penalty kill throughout his career. The Flyers' PK entered Wednesday ranked 30th in the NHL at 72.8 percent.
There are some legitimate hurdles to making a deal on Staal.
He has a $5.7 million cap hit and a no-movement clause, according to CapFriendly.com. The rebuilding Red Wings, who have decent cap space, will have to eat some salary if they're going to move him.
But Staal knows the Northeast well and has a connection to Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault. Staal was drafted by the Rangers and played 13 years in New York, five of them under Vigneault. They had a good run of success together and went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.
In one of his 31 Thoughts columns last month, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote that if the Flyers don't take the Ryan Ellis route, he "could see Philadelphia considering someone like Marc Staal."
Staal can become an unrestricted free agent after the season, so he would strictly be a rental for the Flyers. It wouldn't be an easy addition for general manager Chuck Fletcher. Detroit would have to retain some salary and the Flyers would likely still have to create room for him. Fletcher should also be careful in what they give up for a rental, especially with the Flyers' chances of even making the playoffs starting to flicker.
But at the right price, Staal's experience and strengths could be a solid option for the Flyers if they're realistically in the race come Monday.
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