Last week, the New York Rangers acquired Center, Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers sent two second round picks and a highly talented prospect Aleski Saarela. Since then, Staal and his family have been adjusting to the big apple. He is currently looking for a place in Manhattan for his wife and three boys to stay for the next few months. The reason I say only few months, and not long term, is because his future is up in the air. Staal will be a free agent after the season and how much he contributes to the Rangers down the stretch and into the postseason will play a big factor if he remains in New York.
Staal has joined his younger brother, Marc Staal, a defenseman on the Rangers and the two look to form a solid duo going forward. After spending over a decade with a the same team, a change like this can be extremely overwhelming, especially for his family. Recently, in a statement, Staal told the New York post that “When you’re somewhere for a long time, it’s different coming in to a different environment and just trying to figure everything out”. Since being traded, Staal has spent some extra time at practice trying to get gain some familiarity with the players on the ice and it has paid off. His game has picked up of late, especially in the a game against the New York Islanders on Sunday. The Rangers lost, but he scored a goal and was able to provide a spark on the offensive end, something that can pay large dividends once the playoffs kickoff in April.
Head Coach, Alain Vigneault, has spoken highly about the former Captain since being acquired. He believes Staal will play a large role in the team going forward. After the Rangers 4-2 victory over the Sabres last night, Vigneault said “I think the more he feels comfortable, the better he plays, the more he’s going to get involved with our group, the better off it’s going to be for everybody.”
Over the past few weeks, the Rangers organization has been very helpful in making the transition to New York go smoothly as possible for Staal and his family. This isn’t an easy task for any athlete especially to be traded in the middle of the season. However, with Staal having his younger brother around I think it will help the transition process much easier and he will make an impact for the Rangers come playoff time.