All the positives about staying with the Detroit Red Wings persuaded Marc Staal to change his mind about exploring free agency.
Instead, he’s looking for a house to rent in the metro area, and looking forward to meeting Moritz Seider.
Staal, 34, agreed over the weekend to a one-year extension, building on the relationship that began last fall when he was acquired in a trade. After initial shock, Staal came to appreciate his new surroundings and being on a rebuilding team.
“I liked our attitude,” Staal said Monday. “I liked the organization. It’s a first-class organization. The facility is beautiful. It’s a hockey market. There’s a lot of great things about playing for the Red Wings and I learned that pretty quickly last year.
“I had an opportunity to sign up for it again and it didn’t take me too long to make the decision.”
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The Wings struggled last season, finishing 19-27-10, but in the past two weeks, the team has been strengthened via trades for defenseman Nick Leddy and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. That feeds into how general manager Steve Yzerman eased the anxiety for Staal in October.
“He’s trying to build a winner,” Staal said. “We’re getting more competitive. I thought we got better as the year wore on last year, and I think we’ll be better again. That’s what we’re striving for. It’s a fun thing to be a part of.
“The fact they wanted me back to help in that way and be a part of this organization, this team, for me was a pretty exciting opportunity. You never know what you’re going to get in free agency. I was curious to get there, but Steve reached out and made an offer. I felt like it was a good situation for me last year, I had fun playing.”
Staal appeared in 56 games last season. He added a solid veteran dimension, used his 6-feet-4, 209-pound body to break up plays, and kept things calm. While training camp will determine who plays with whom, Yzerman mentioned Leddy as a partner for young defenseman Filip Hronek. That may indicate the Wings see Staal as a partner for Seider, the 2019 first-round pick who’s poised to join the team this fall.
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“I haven’t seen him play yet, but I’ve heard he’s a very talented young player,” Staal said. “I’m excited to get on the ice with these guys and see how it all shakes out.
“I had some great veteran players when I was coming up in New York. It definitely helps to lean on them, to pick their brain on how you get through an 82-game schedule, and we’re back on that, which is exciting. It’s hard for a young player to gain that consistency early on in his career, so that’s part of how I’ll try to help.”
What clinched the $2 million deal was getting a no-trade clause. Staal enters 2021-22 at 948 games, and there’s often interest in dependable, veteran blue liners at the trade deadline. Staal didn’t rule out going somewhere else to chase a Stanley Cup championship, but now he has control.
“It’s not to say I would say no to an opportunity, but with a young family, you never know what’s going to be the situation when you get around that time of year,” Staal said. “To be able to control it a little bit was important. Steve was willing to do that for me, and I appreciated that.”
It all added up to foregoing the stress of going on the market, which opens Wednesday.
“You never know what you’re going to get in free agency,” Staal said. “I was curious to get there, but Steve reached out and made an offer. I felt like it was a good situation for me last year, I had fun playing.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.