eric staal agreed to a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The forward, who turns 38 on Oct. 29, had been with Florida during training camp in a professional tryout and had no points and eight shots on goal in four preseason games. He was on the ice with the Panthers on Friday.
“He’s had a really strong camp,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Friday. “To his credit, I think he could have come to camp in the best shape of his life. There is a lot to this man and personality that everyone will see when they spend time with him, character and leadership.
“The love of the game, the pure love of the game and the love of the idea of winning. I think that’s great, because it’s still a relatively young core here and you’ve got a veteran guy like that, but it’s not just the veteran, it’s who he is as a man, how he trains, how he competes, how he practices, how he sings, how he’s connected. He just makes our organization better.”
Staal did not play for the Panthers in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. His next game is at home against the New York Islanders on Sunday.
Staal last played in the NHL in 2020-21, when he had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 53 games for the Buffalo Sabers and Montreal Canadiens, and eight points (two goals, six assists) in 21 games. the Stanley Cup Playoffs. to help the Canadians reach the Cup final.
“Eric is a seasoned leader in this league and a great competitor,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “His professionalism and veteran mentality of his will add value to our locker room on and off the ice.”
Last season, Staal scored five points (two goals, three assists) in four games with Iowa, the Minnesota Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate, after signing a PTO with them. At the 2022 Beijing Olympics, he scored four points (one goal, three assists) in five games and captained Canada, which finished sixth.
“It was unique,” Staal said in August. “I was on my own, losing the Stanley Cup Final in the middle of July. And then the next season started two months later and it just didn’t work out.” [in Montreal]. And then it didn’t work anywhere else. And it was kind of like, ‘Okay, where do we go now?’ I kept fit and the Olympics came up, so I had a lot of unique experiences.”
With the Panthers, Staal will join his younger brother, defenseman marc stal35. The two were teammates with the New York Rangers in 2015-16.
“That was a big reason why I’m doing what I’m doing, going in there, having him and maybe getting a chance to play with him,” Eric said. “It’s special, first, to play in the League, and then to be able to do it alongside your brother on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations is something you can only dream of.”
Last season, the Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the best record in the NHL (58-18-6), but were swept by the Lightning in the Second Round of the Eastern Conference.
Selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the second pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, Staal has 1,034 points (441 goals, 593 assists) in 1,293 regular season games with the Hurricanes, Rangers, Wild, Sabers and Canadiens, and 59 points ( 23 goals, 36 assists) in 83 playoff games. He won the Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.
Maurice, who coached Staal at Carolina during his rookie season in 2003-04 and again in 2008-12, said he was surprised by how much Staal had left in his game.
“He’s really an easy guy to work with because there’s no agenda,” Maurice said. “He just wants to win and he wants to play here, and if he didn’t feel like he could help, he wouldn’t. Honestly, he surprised me in camp, to the point that he earned the contract as an NHL player.” He was much more dynamic than I thought he would be.”
Jessi Pierce, NHL.com Independent Correspondent, contributed to this report.
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