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What would you pay Eric Staal?

Sunday, October 4, 2015 7:03:38 PM America/Los_Angeles

Which he shouldn't, because he's not worth anything close to $9 million and he and his agent know that just as much as anyone else. Asking for $9 million for a player like Staal — declining, past 30, no longer even a center as far as his team is concerned — might as well be asking for the league maximum, which this year is $14.28 million. By degrees, you're not really being that much more ludicrous with your initial ask. 

No one is going to give Eric Staal, who hasn't broken 70 points in a full season since 2012, anywhere near that much money, and if they do well, they have bigger problems than the albatross contract they just gave him. But this does raise the question of what is a reasonable contract request from this player.

It was technically not that long ago that he was a more or less annual lock to clear 70 points. He did it every year from 2005-06 — when he scored 100 and won a Cup, setting career expectations too lofty for all but the game's all-time legends to live up to — and even scored 53 in 48 in the lockout season. But as a 29-year-old two seasons ago he scored only 61, and followed that up with 54 this past year. Guys generally don't get over a 156-game hump like that when they're 31 and beyond.

He actually turned in a pretty good two-way season overall in 2014-15, but one would imagine that such an uptick (from a plus-0.75 WAR to 2.29) doesn't necessarily mean he's once again found whatever made him such a great player back just a few years ago. Keep in mind, he saw his position changed to the wing, which relieves some of his defensive responsibilities, and also found himself on a line with brother Jordan Staal for much of the season, which is going to help anyone look better.

That, however, also came with a considerable drop in per-60 production for both goals and primary points (goals plus first assists), at declines of 10.7 percent and 36.8 percent. Yes, he was still playing a solid all-around game, but you pay guys with $8.25 million cap hits — Eric Staal has an $8.25 million cap hit, folks — to put up points, and Staal simply didn't do it. Again, this is not a skill he's likely to rediscover as time marches on.

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