‘Plugs a huge hole’: Red Wings add Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, draft pick

Detroit News

Mark Falkner
 
| The Detroit News

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Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman strengthened the team’s league-worst defense with Saturday’s trade for New York Rangers veteran defenseman Marc Staal and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft in exchange for future considerations.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Staal helped lead the Rangers to three conference finals during his 13-year career, including an appearance in the 2014 Stanley Cup final against the champion L.A. Kings.

“Sam plugs a hole for us,” Yzerman said. “One, he’s a right-shot forward. He’s good on the power play. I think right now, off the top of my head, we have Luke Glendening our only right-shot forward. He’s a high-quality character person. Along with Marc (Staal), we’re trying to add these veteran guys to help our younger players, help the culture, help the locker room and help the entire organization.”

Yzerman also has a league-best six second-round picks in the next two drafts as he continues to rebuild the team with short-term moves to cut down on the team’s 3.73 goals against average and long-term emphasis on the draft similar to his nine years of shaping the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are still one win away from the Cup after a 3-2 loss in double overtime to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

“The trade accomplishes a couple of things,” Yzerman said on a video conference call on Saturday night. “As part of our rebuilding process, we’re trying to add draft picks, prospects, young players and future assets to really help us down the line. 

“In this trade, we get a second-round pick in the 2021 draft but we also have to ice a team and be competitive at the same time. Not only do we get a defenseman that will go right into our lineup and plug a huge hole for us, we add future assets as well.”

Staal, 33, had two goals and 11 points and was plus-5 in 52 games during the regular season this year. He had one goal and was minus-4 in three games during the best-of-five, play-in round against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I’m not sure he’s going to be on the second line in the middle,” Yzerman said. “Where exactly he plays I’m not sure. He can play in the middle. He can play on the wing. Actually, he can play right wing or left wing. Most importantly, it’s the right shot.

“I don’t want to sit here and say we resigned him and put him in as the second-line centerman. He can play with any of our lines. It wasn’t designed really to put him in the two-hole.”

More: Some hits, many big misses: Ted Kulfan grades the last 10 Red Wings drafts

Yzerman said the left-handed shooting Staal will fill a void with the team not resigning defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley.

“There’s two spots on our left side that need to be filled,” Yzerman said. “We have Patrik Nemeth, Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal fits in nicely on the left side. He’s a good solid defender, good size, obviously he’s been in the league a long time. A good penalty killer.”

In 892 career games (ranking sixth all-time on the Rangers’ list behind Harry Howell, Brian Leetch, Rod Gilbert, Ron Greschner and Walter Tkaczuk), the native of Thunder Bay, Ontario has 43 goals, 145 assists, 188 points and is plus-46. He played at least 72 games in each of the six prior seasons and 10 times overall.

“Marc Staal has been an exemplary hockey player, teammate, and person from the moment he joined the New York Rangers organization,” team president John Davidson said. “A consummate professional, Marc’s perseverance and dedication to the game made him such an integral part of our organization.

“Marc, his wife Lindsay, and his children Anna, Emily, and Jack, will always be a part of the Rangers family, and we wish them all the best going forward.”

Staal, the 12th overall pick from the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2005 NHL draft, was entering the final year of his six-year contract with a cap hit of $5.7 million, according to capfriendly.com.

Yzerman didn’t elaborate on whether Staal waived his no-movement clause but said the team’s favorable position with more than $20 million dollars of cap space could help with further decisions down the road.

“We’re in a position to do future deals like this if they come along,” Yzerman said. “They don’t happen a lot. There’s so much uncertainty in the league right now. We don’t really know when we’re starting or what the landscape is going to look like next year. We’re all kind of going down uncharted waters.

“Nobody wants to give up picks and prospects but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to make your team better. I don’t want to say we’re trying to take advantage of that but we’re trying to find teams that are in a position to do that.”

Marc Staal’s older brother Eric Staal, 35, had one season remaining on a two-year, $6.5 million dollar contract before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres from the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 16 for forward Marcus Johansson.

His younger brother Jordan, 32, signed a 10-year, $60-million dollar contract with the Hurricanes this year and was scoreless in eight playoff games in the play-in victory over the Rangers.

mfalker@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @falkner

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