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'Typical Staal': Red Wings trade for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, draft pick

Mark Falkner
The Detroit News

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. 

In 892 career games (ranking sixth all-time on New York's list behind Harry Howell, Brian Leetch, Rod Gilbert, Ron Greschner and Walter Tkachuk), the native of Thunder Bay, Ontario has 43 goals, 188 points and is plus-46.

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.

Marc Staal of the Rangers holds down Justin Abdelkader of the Red Wings during the first period.

"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.

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."

Staal, who ranked among the Rangers' top three defensemen in minutes played per game along with Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh during the team's three runs to the conference finals, has played at least 72 games in each of the six prior seasons and 10 times overall and registered 20 points in 107 career playoff games.

"The analytics probably won't spell out great things about him but Marc is a competitor, a guy who will do just anything to win," Rangers TV color analyst Joe Micheletti said. "People thought the game is getting so fast and he couldn't play anymore but that wasn't the case. He adapted his game.

"The Wings are getting a defensive-minded player who can still play against just about anybody. He's the kind of teammate a lot of these young players will be helped by because of his presence and experience."

Staal, the 12th overall pick from the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2005 NHL draft, a two-time gold medalist at the world junior championships in 2006-2007 and the OHL defenseman of the year in 2007, 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 or modified his no-movement clause but said the team's favorable position with more than $25 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."

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.

Jared Staal, 30, made his NHL debut for Carolina in 2013 on a line with his brothers Eric and Jordan and is now an assistant coach with the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears.

The four brothers started the Staal Family Foundation in 2012 to provide support and improve the quality of life for children with cancer and their families.

"He's a typical Staal, down-to-earth, a really good person," Micheletti said. "When he laces up, there's none of that attitude, 'Oh, I don't care.' He just understands who he is, what kind of a player he is, the role he has on the team and how he can help with his leadership abilities. He's one of the great professionals of the game."

mfalker@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @falkner