It's time to take a look at what is by far the most talented and accomplished family in the contemporary NHL. That's right, your favorite, my favorite, the wonderful Staals.
Let's start with the oldest and most accomplished Staal, Eric. Eric showed promise from a young age. In 2002-03, after already having posted two prolific scoring seasons in the OHL, he received the OHL's Top Draft Prospect Award and was a second team All Star in the OHL. Eric had bigger goals than some hack second team unit in the OHL; he also was named a first team All Star in the CHL that same year.
After being selected 2nd overall in 2003, Eric went right to the NHL. His first season was a bit of a disappointment, as he posted only 11 goals on the season. While some prominent writers might see 11 goals as a sign of future mediocrity, Eric managed to overcome that stigma to go on and succeed. In fact, Staal was such a fast riser that in only his second NHL season (3rd pro season thanks to the lock out) Eric posted career numbers (45-55-100). It is truly a rare talent indeed that can reach his potential in such a short period of time. While it takes most NHL players until their mid- to late-20s to reach the zenith of their game, Eric Staal would follow no such rule. In that same season, 2005-06, Staal was named a second team NHL All Star, and, more importantly, was the leading scorer on the Stanley Cup Champion 'Canes. In 2006-07 Eric became bored with individual success (what other reason could there be for his 30% drop in scoring?) and instead focused more on team-oriented success. Did Eric lead the 'Canes on another epic playoff run, you ask? No. Eric had greater goals on his mind. National goals. Eric knew that if the 'Canes were to make the playoffs he would have no chance to lead Team Canada to glory. So, as much as it pained Eric, he allowed the 'Canes to miss the playoffs only a year after tasting a Cup victory. You see, the 'Canes had already won, it was time for Canada to get a taste of glory. And indeed they did. Eric Staal helped lead Team Canada to the 2007 World Championship gold medal. Eric Staal was named an NHL All-Star in the 2007, 08, and 09 seasons. In the 2008 All Star Game Eric was named the MVP. In a game of all the best players, Eric was simply the best. Just another example of Eric Staal raising his game against the stiffest competition. Eric cemented his membership in the prestigious Triple Gold club when he helped Canada win the 2010 Olympic Gold medal. Eric's one goal and 5 assists (surely all primary As) were no doubt invaluable to Canada's success. Eric also showed people what he's capable of when he is able to play with truly elite talent. For years he toiled in Carolina with little offensive help. But in the Olympics Eric was a member of a veritable all star team, and his near-point-per-game production demonstrates just how good he can be when he's able to play with real talent on his line. Steve Yzerman knew Eric was good enough to play on Team Canada, the best team in at least 20 years, are you going to argue with Steve Yzerman?
Last season Eric Staal led the entire NHL in hat tricks, scoring 4 on the season. 12 out of his 40 goals (nearly 1/3!) were scored in only 4 games on the season! Additionally, Eric chose to once again lead his beloved Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Finals (Eric's game 7 goal against Marty Brodeur being the key moment of the 'Canes' first round upset). Unfortunately, Eric's teammates let him down as he had to experience the losing side of a playoff handshake line for the first time in his career. It should come as no surprise that only a team sporting their own Staal brother was able to knock of the 'Canes.
In addition to Eric's documented offensive prowess, he is one of the best in the league at drawing power plays for his team. His penalties drawn number is down this year, undoubtedly through no fault of his own. An injury slowed his start and most likely hampered his penalty drawing skill set. Nevertheless, Eric has still drawn penalties at a decent rate (about one per game). For the season Eric leads CAR forwards in ESTOI (and led last season as well), while facing the stiffest competition of any CAR regular. Eric also leads CAR on PPTOI (and he led the team in PPTOI last season as well), making him a key cog on a record setting power play unit. Even with all that ES and PPTOI Eric still has enough endurance to give his team over 5 minutes of PKTOI/60 (up nearly 4 minutes per 60 from last season). Despite the injury Eric was second on CAR in GVT. If not for the shootout GVT, Eric would be first. And everyone knows that shootouts aren't even hockey. So in hockey, Eric is the best player on CAR, no small claim on a team that is less than one calendar year removed from the ECF. Eric also put up a Player Contribution rating of 82 last year, good enough to rank him among the top 30 skaters in the league. Perhaps the most impressive stat of all, Eric has done all this as a winger playing center. How else could you explain those face off numbers?
Who wouldn't want to own this?
Now let's move on to Marc, the second Staal. Marc got off to a comparatively slow start. He fell all the way to the 12th spot in the first round of 2005. Then, unlike Eric, Marc had to return to play in the OHL for 2 more years but did win OHL D of the year in 2006-07. Marc hasn't had the professional or international success of his older brother, but he does have 2 World Junior Championship gold medals. Clearly, the potential exists for yet another Staal to star on the international stage. Marc's slower development can most likely be explained by the fact that he plays the more difficult position. It is well understood that D take longer to develop, and Marc is no different. Despite the less gratifying nature of his job, Marc is a quality player in his own right. He was 3rd on NYR in GVT this year, behind only Hank and Gaborik. He also sports the highest GVTD rating on the team, despite higher profile (and higher paid) players such as Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival patrolling that same blueline. Marc leads NYR in ESTOI for D, and is second in PKTOI for D. While his PPTOI is token, he's never been expected to be a huge offensive contributor. Plus, NYR's PP is mediocre at best so that's probably a compliment to him. Finally, Staal brings many intangibles to the rink that aren't easily quantifiable. He's been known to singlehandedly embarrass opposing stars.
The guy cries tears of blood. If he were from Mexico he'd be a national treasure.
Next we have Jordan Staal. Jordan's path much more closely resembles Eric's than Marc's. Jordan was drafted 2nd overall in 2006. He also jumped right to the NHL from the OHL. However, Jordan was not to be outdone by Eric. Jordan set his career high for goals in only his rookie year with 29. Jordan laughs at your 11 goal rookie season. However, Jordan did continue to develop his game and has since set new career records for total points with 49 total (both last year and this year). After Jordan's rookie season was over he joined brother Eric on Team Canada and won the gold in the World Championships. Since then, Jordan has also won a Stanley Cup and now remains one snub away from the Triple Gold club. While draft-mate Jonathan Toews (taken one spot after Jordan) was a member of Team Canada, and several other draft-mates have outscored Jordan to date, Jordan remains the sole Cup winner from the 2006 draft class. Obviously when you have the choice of drafting a Cup winner or a high scorer, you take the Cup winner every time. Sheer genius by Ray Shero.
For each of the past two seasons Jordan has been a mainstay for PIT at both ES and PK. This season his GVT was third on the team, behind two guys with Art Ross trophies on the mantle. While Jordan looks mostly like a liability on the PP, his real contribution is keeping the puck out of his net. In fact, Jordan's greatest contribution to the PIT PP (which, no doubt, must be lethal with all the studs they have) is in creating PPs, not finishing them. Like Eric, Jordan is quite adept at drawing penalties. In each of the last two seasons Jordan has drawn about one penalty a game. Jordan hasn't had the individual accolades of his teammates, but make no mistake, a Selke is in his future. The biggest impediment to Staal's Selke coronation is that the award is normally only awarded to centers. Only Jere Lehtinen has won the Selke as a wing since 1991-92 (and he's done it 3 times!). Like Eric, Jordan would probably be better served moving to his natural position on the wing. Stringer Bell says "Y'all [Staals] are giving me way too many 40 degree days!"
The guy on the right.
but not least and definitely least we have Jared Staal. Every family needs a goon to protect the talent (have you seen Marc fight?), and the Staals are no different. The real curveball is that the black sheep was the 4th brother, not the third as is usual. When Jared proves he's actually an NHL player, I'll be bothered to write more than a half-paragraph. Until then just know that he's an OHL punk who couldn't even get drafted in the first round despite his last name. Right now Jared is on the cusp of cracking the NHL the Phoenix Coytoes' top 5 prospects.
This isn't Jared but it's all that came up when I googled "disappointing embarrassment."
All told this family is truly a formidable hockey force. As if their tangible contributions and awards weren't enough, the Staal family has so much leadership they had to add another "A" to their name.