The Montreal Canadiens have acquired forward Eric Staal from the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are in a full tear-down as Jack Eichel is currently on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Staal is 36-years-old and will be a much needed veteran presence on the Canadiens. In exchange for Staal, the Sabres acquired a third and fifth-round draft pick in the 2021 NHL draft. 50% of Staal’s $1.625 million salary and cap hit will be retained by the Sabres.
The NHL trade deadline is on April 12th at 3 PM. Players who are traded from the United States to a Canadian team will need to quarantine for a week due to coronavirus protocols. This was pared down from two weeks today. The fact that this comes up leading up to the trade deadline is interesting. This shows how much the NHL is a big business in Canada.
Staal is in the final year of the two-year contract that he signed with the Minnesota Wild. This was before he was traded to the Sabres. Staal has played for three teams before being traded to the Sabres and played 1,000 games in his NHL career and scored over 1,000 goals. He was acquired by the Sabres during the 2020 offseason along with Taylor Hall. The Sabres were clearly trying to bring out the best in Eichel with Staal and Hall, who has not been good this season, before being placed on injured reserve. This has clearly not been the case.
How does the Eric Staal acquisition impact the Canadiens?
The Canadiens have a record of 14-8-9 in 31 games played so far. The Canadiens currently sit in fourth place in the North Division of the NHL. Staal was acquired to try to make the push into the playoffs. Due to the coronavirus, if the Canadiens make the playoffs, they will be playing against another Canadian team.
Whether or not the Canadiens make the playoffs remains to be seen. Eric Staal will certainly bring leadership to the team and the Sabres will begin to rebuild.