By: Drew Shetler
For years now the Pittsburgh Penguins have been known for having one of the best, if not the best third line in hockey, consisting of Jordan Staal at center and Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy on the wings.
However, with his 25 goals and 50 point season last year Staal made a case that he is ready to move up to the second line and quite possibly be a first line center for some teams.
We all know that Jordan is a great two way hockey player, contributing not only on the offensive end but on the defensive end as well, being nominated as a Selke Trophy finalist in 2010, a trophy given to the best defensive forward in the NHL. But you don’t have to be on the third line to be that type of player. For instance take Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, a three time winner of the Selke trophy and one the best players on the Red Wings squad.
The Penguins, more importantly Staal, have to decide what they want to do. Staal has all the talent in the world to be a leader for a team, but if he stays in Pittsburgh he will always be in the shadow of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Do the Penguins want to keep their three young centers intact for a couple more years and hope they win another cup?
Or do you move Staal up to the second line with Malkin where in Staal’s rookie campaign he set his career high in goals with 29. That would free up James Neal to play with Crosby, giving Crosby much needed help on his line taking away some of the double teams that Crosby sees.
Another option could be that if Staal doesn’t want to be in the shadow of Crosby and Malkin any longer and may want to go on his own and be the top guy for a team then trade him. Rumors have swirled that many teams are interested in 23 year old center, most recently the Carolina Hurricanes. Should a trade happen with the Hurricanes it would give Staal a chance to play with his older brother Eric and quite possibly his younger brother Jared who is also in the Hurricanes system.
Whatever the solution is between the Penguins and Staal, for the Penguins, having too much talent is never a bad problem to have.