From trade bait to Sid's wing, spotlight on Jordan Staal's new deal

News traveled fast yesterday as word got out that the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Jordan Staal to a four-year, $16 million extension.

After months non-stop trade rumors involving Staal, it appears that the 20-year old center's future, for the moment, is in Pittsburgh.

But will the rumors die?

With the Staal deal being the only recent positive news in PensNation, we asked a few Penguin bloggers their opinions on the Staal deal while at the same time taking their minds off Pittsburgh's current slump.

Despite avoiding potential offer sheets he surely would have received on July 1 when he would have become a restricted free agent, Staal has increased his trade value by signing for less than what many were predicting he would have been offered. 

The deal also makes him much more attractive on the trade market. With Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero continuing on the never-ending quest to find a suitable scoring winger (not named Marian Hossa) for Sidney Crosby, Staal is currently the Penguins' most valuable commodity, so the possibility of trading him still exists.

Here are a few thoughts from some Penguins bloggers on the deal:

Frank D, PensBurgh:

"I'm going to stick by the notion that this is a small investment that can produce a high return. It'll be interesting to see how the Pens work with him as Sid's wing and how well he comes along in that position."

Tony Ferrante, The Confluence:

"Even with Staal getting bumped up once again on the first-line winger for tonight's game, he's never demonstrated that he can play that position very well. In addition, his shot accuracy has gone completely down the tubes. Where once he was among the league leaders in that category, more times than not he completely misses the net rather than put his shot at least on goal. So in essence, Shero just paid 4 million per year for a decent defensive, penalty-killing center.  And combined with contracts already for Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Whitney and Orpik, not to mention the remainder of Gonchar's, that's a lot of coin tied up before any wingers are brought in...."

Brian Metzer, HockeyBuzz:

"Overall, I like the signing, as it proves that Ray Shero, losing streaks aside, is sticking to his plan and not making any knee jerk reactions. He has long talked of locking up the nucleus of this team and supplementing them year to year with cost effective one- and two-year signings. That is exactly what we have seen with this transaction and it fits his plan perfectly."

Seth Rorabaugh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Empty Netters:

"...this clearly doesn't bode well for those who would like to get a world-class first-line scoring winger for Sidney Crosby, including potentially Crosby himself. Given the uncertainty of how much the NHL's salary cap could rise or even fall in subsequent seasons, locking up a talent like Staal to a long-term deal obviously sucks up a significant portion of whatever cap room Shero has to work with. And when you consider the deals others like Brooks Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin inked prior to this season, the team already has a lot of money accounted for."

A mixed bag of reactions, but as far as those "sign and trade" rumors, friend of Puck Daddy Lyle Richardson believes that Shero's goal was to lock up Staal long-term and not use him as trade bait. 

Will that thinking come back to bite the Penguins? Only time will tell, and at the moment Pittsburgh is mired in a deep slump. The pressure is on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to produce; a scene quite different a year ago when the lineup was littered with contributors like Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa and Sergei Gonchar

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