Making the case for the Detroit Red Wings to re-sign Marc Staal
Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
By Scott Ony1 year ago
After an inconsistent 2021–22 season, the Detroit Red Wings have many questions to answer as they head into the summer. In particular, the team has much to do to bolster its group of left-handed defensemen.
There are only four defenders on the current roster who are signed for the 2022–23 season. @Jordan Oesterle is the only left-handed member of that bunch.
Anything can happen, but it would be a big surprise if pending UFA Danny DeKeyser returned to the Red Wings next season. Newcomers Jake Walman and Olli Juolevi have had their moments but haven’t shown enough to be guaranteed a spot if they re-sign with the organization.
That leaves @Marc Staal, who has been a positive presence on and off the ice in his second season with the Red Wings. The pending UFA defenceman provides the type of leadership that a developing team needs and has proven himself capable of holding the fort on a second or third pairing at this stage in his career.
Staal has been the Red Wings’ most reliable left-handed defender all year long. With @Moritz Seider entering his sophomore season and newly-signed prospect Simon Edvinsson on the cusp of reaching the NHL, the Wings will need veterans like Staal to provide mentorship, stability, and insurance.
Not especially known for his scoring ability, Staal has 16 points in 71 games this season. This has been his most productive campaign since he scored 20 points in 80 games with the New York Rangers in 2014–15.
According to Evolving-Hockey, Staal ranks fourth on the 2021–22 Red Wings with 9.9 total goals above replacement (GAR) — although it should be noted that this figure is likely bolstered by his career-high 11.75 on-ice shooting percentage at five-on-five.
Nevertheless, even at 35 years old, it’s clear Staal still can provide value in a bottom-four role. Teammates and fans alike have come to love the “strange banana.”
It’s not a bad idea to fill depth positions on a team’s roster with younger players who have potential to grow. That said, having steady veterans to surround those inexperienced players can make it easier to create an atmosphere that will allow them to flourish.
Responsible veteran defenders can allow younger players to learn on the fly and create more room for offensive defensemen to play their game. While Staal is not the player he was ten years ago, he still carries the pedigree of having been a premier defensive defenseman in this league and thinks the game at an extremely high level.
Staal is 35. At his age, many players — especially those without a championship ring — prefer to play for legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Given his performance this season, there should be strong interest in Staal this summer from teams around the league.
If Staal is interested in returning to the Red Wings next season, it would likely be a relatively low-risk move. His expiring contract carries a cap hit of only $2 million and it’s hard to imagine his next deal being significantly more expensive. He’s also the type of player who might garner interest at the 2023 trade deadline if the Red Wings remain on the outside of the playoff picture.
@Dylan Larkin is the captain and the face of this Red Wings club, but he can’t lead by himself. Players like Staal provide more value to their teams than pure on-ice production suggests.
The Red Wings will need to find someone to replace the intangibles Staal provides if he doesn’t return for a third season with the team.
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