The Carolina Hurricanes are getting one of their key forwards back, as Jordan Staal has been activated from injured reserve. Staal suffered a concussion earlier this month, and has not played since December 5th.
Carolina now finds themselves in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division, and have scored more goals than just the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes. Offense continues to be a problem for the club, and it is not clear how much Staal’s return will really help that. The defensive center has just five goals and 11 points on the season through 27 games, and is now coming back off a two week layoff. The youngest of the three NHL Staal brothers is now 30, and is still waiting to match his career-high of 29 goals scored back as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, he has only broken 20 goals once in the last six seasons and isn’t on track to do it this year.
Staal is however the Hurricanes’ highest paid player, meaning he carries a lot of the burden among the forward group. While Sebastian Aho is almost sure to take over that mantle with his next contract, for now the Carolina management group needs more out of their big center. With four more seasons on his deal with a full no-movement clause, Staal is destined to be in Carolina through thick and thin—and an expansion draft where he will require protection.