Penguins center Staal brushes off trade rumors

Center Jordan Staal said Tuesday upon the Penguins’ arrival in Philadelphia that he was unaware of speculation regarding his future with the team.

Staal, with whom the Penguins can begin contract discussions July 1, is set to become a free agent following next season along with fellow center Sidney Crosby.

Both players will likely command raises from their current average annual salary — $4 million for Staal, and $8.7 million for Crosby.

The Penguins, who during the season signed winger James Neal to a six-year, $30 million contract, made that move with the intention of being able to retain each of their star centers: Crosby, Staal and Evgeni Malkin, the latter who can become a free agent following the 2013-14 season.

The Penguins have spent to within roughly $1 million of the NHL’s salary cap in every season since 2008.

Staal appeared bemused Tuesday when pressed about speculation that he is unhappy with the Penguins and could be traded this summer.

“About me?” Staal asked. “What are they saying? No, not right now. That’s the last thing on my mind, for sure.”

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