Fan expectations always vary from player to player in a given year and this season, I think Carolina fans had higher hopes for Jordan Staal than anyone else on the roster. It made sense to expect a lot from him, too. He has always been one of the best two-way centers in the NHL and has shown the ability to be even more than that during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins when given the opportunity. The Hurricanes also gave up a fan-favorite player (Brandon Sutter), a promising defensive prospect (Brian Dumoulin) and a high-first round pick to acquire him, so Staal was going to need to do a lot to prove himself with the fans and win them over. In addition to that, Staal signed a long-term deal with the Hurricanes shortly after they traded for him and is going to be an integral part of this team going forward.
While Jordan did not have a bad season, he seemed to be a disappointment in the eyes of a lot of fans based on results alone. During his Pittsburgh days, the common belief with him was always that he had the ability to be a top-six center on a lot of clubs and was never given the linemates, ice-time or power play time to perform at that level because of the Penguins center depth. I've always thought that these claims were overblown because injuries to Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin have given Jordan the opportunity to step into a bigger role, but it still isn't far-fetched to say that he hasn't reached his peak offensively. After all, he was coming off a year where his even strength point production was at a first-line level and it was not the first time in his career that he put up these kind of numbers. Staal has also done an amazing job of dominating puck-possession while playing tough minutes throughout his entire career, so there was a lot of evidence to believe that Jordan Staal could take that next step and be a top-tier player.
Unfortunately, the Hurricanes didn't get those results this year. Staal had his lowest even strength scoring rate since 2007-08, had the second worst plus/minus rating on the team and his point-per-game rate was the lowest it had been in three years. Staal still had a good season, but since he was playing in a bigger role than he was in Pittsburgh, a lot of people were expecting more so he had a disappointing season in a lot of people's eyes.
If you judge a player only on boxcar stats then yes, Jordan had a disappointing season, but there is more to the game than just that and Jordan actually excelled in a lot of areas this year, many of which don't show up on the scoresheet.no comments