Staal sweepstakes could heat up

Here are the most logical trade partners for the Penguins:

1. Carolina Hurricanes

Staal’s brother, Eric, plays in Raleigh. Also, consider the following: The Hurricanes could use a dominant No. 2 center, they’re $20 million under the salary cap for next season and have plenty to offer the Penguins.

Don’t discount the fact that Jordan Staal doesn’t particularly enjoy media circuses. He’s a quiet kid who likes to play hockey. He is getting married this summer, and raising a family in the same neighborhood as his brother’s family is appealing. His youngest brother, Jared, is also in Carolina’s system.

Raleigh makes sense on many levels. The Hurricanes know it, and so does Staal.

What the Hurricanes have to offer

Carolina likely will make a strong run for Staal this summer and dangle center Brandon Sutter as part of a deal. He’s a strong, young center who would look good behind Crosby and Malkin. The Hurricanes also boast the No. 8 pick in the upcoming draft and a number of strong prospects.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

It has become known that Toronto general manager Brian Burke is a big Jordan Staal fan. In fact, every GM in hockey is a big Staal fan, but Burke is said to particularly covet him.

Burke and Shero are friends and have conducted business together. Think they would like Staal, a Thunder Bay native, in Ontario?

What the Maple Leafs have to offer

Center Nazem Kadri is the most talented player in Toronto’s system, and he thrived late in the season with the Maple Leafs. He’s a pure goal scorer. Also, defenseman Luke Schenn is the kind of physical, stay-at-home defenseman the Penguins badly need. The Maple Leafs are willing to deal Schenn.

3. Edmonton Oilers

No team, not even the Penguins, has hit the lottery jackpot like Edmonton. The Oilers are about to pick first in the NHL Draft for the third consecutive year. They will take winger Nail Yakupov, yet another highly skilled winger.

The Oilers are young and talented. They need a player accomplished enough to teach them how to win but young enough to be a leader for a long time.

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