After skating on a professional tryout that extended into the regular season, Eric Staal has earned a contract. The Florida Panthers have agreed to a one-year, one-way contract with the veteran forward according to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff. The deal will carry a salary of $750K.
Staal, 37, is quite the story of perseverance, after not playing in the NHL at all last season. Instead of signing on with a team, he played a handful of games for the Iowa Wild before captaining Canada at the 2022 Olympics. While there were many reports that he was hoping to sign for a stretch run after the tournament ended, a contract never materialized.
Now, he’ll join brother Marc Staal with the Panthers for at least one last go-round in the NHL, and try to show once again why he may one day get into the Hall of Fame. The second-overall pick from 2003 has 1,034 points in 1,293 career regular season games and won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Even in his last appearance in the NHL, with the Montreal Canadiens in 2021, he somehow found a new gear in the postseason. After being rather underwhelming during the regular season, Staal put up eight points in 21 games for the Canadiens as they took a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final.
While he certainly won’t be a huge difference-maker for the Panthers, there are worse depth options to bring in with the added cap space from moving Aaron Ekblad to long-term injured reserve. Staal is, after all, 78th all-time in NHL points, and has been skating with the team long enough to fully understand their systems and structure.