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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Jordan Staal won’t be under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes for next season when this season starts, but general manager Don Waddell is optimistic it won’t be long before the forward is signed for 2023-24.
“We’ve had some small talks, so I think it’s just something that we both have to sit down,” Waddell said Friday. “It’s not going to happen between now and Wednesday [season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets], but I think certainly in the near future. I know we want him to stay here for sure, and he wants to be here. So we’ve just got to figure it out.”
Staal is in the final season of a 10-year, $60 million contract ($6 million annual average) he signed July 1, 2012, and can become an unrestricted free agent when it expires. Although the 34-year-old said after last season that he intended to play out the final season on his contract, he clarified his comments to NHL.com during the NHL North American Player Media Tour in Henderson, Nevada last month and made it clear he wants to remain with Carolina.
“I want to be in the Hurricanes organization for as long as I can and I’m sure whether it’s an extension now or they re-up me at the end of the year or if they’re done with me, it will happen,” Staal said. “That’s where I want to be.”
This will be Staal’s 11th season with the Hurricanes, including the past four as captain, after being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 22, 2012. He had 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 78 regular-season games and six points (one goal, five assists) in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season.
Staal attributed his initial comments about playing out his contract to the emotions of Carolina’s seven-game loss to the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs.
“I was actually really thrown off by the question at the time,” he said. “And after I remember [thinking], ‘Did I just screw that up?’ Because it kind of blew up a little bit.”
Waddell said he never was concerned that Staal didn’t want to stay.
“There’s always emotions,” Waddell said. “I think that with the relationship he has with [coach Rod Brind’Amour] and the trust that they have in each other, that’s a big factor too.”
Waddell also said he hopes to sign Derek Stepan to a contract. The 32-year-old forward has been at training camp on a professional tryout agreement.
“We’re talking about it,” Waddell said. “We’re going to talk about it again in the next day or so and my gut is we’ll end up signing him.”
Stepan’s contract might have to wait until after Carolina submits its opening night roster by the 5 p.m. ET deadline Monday and forward Max Pacioretty (torn Achilles tendon) and defenseman Jake Gardiner (hip) are placed on long-term injured reserve. Stepan had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 58 regular-season games and did not have a point in three playoff games with Carolina last season.
The Hurricanes placed forward Jordan Martinook on waivers Friday. He had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 59 regular-season games and one assist in six playoff games last season.
“It’s vital that we maximize our flexibility prior to finalizing the opening day roster,” Waddell told the Hurricanes website. “Our expectation is that Jordan will be a part of our group as we try to bring a championship to Raleigh this season.”
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