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Rumblings: Hurricanes must make decision on Eric Staal's future

Eric Staal was drafted by the Hurricanes with the No. 2 pick in 2003. Icon Sportswire/AP Images

As the NHL draft approaches later this month, so does decision time for the Carolina Hurricanes when it comes to Eric Staal.

The star center enters the final year of his contract next season. So the Hurricanes and Staal need to figure out their future soon. The club either needs him under a new contract before next season -- because they can’t afford to just let him play out his final season and get nothing for him -- or perhaps the decision is to put him on the trade market entering draft weekend.

Veteran agent Rick Curran, who represents Staal, is expected to have a face-to-face meeting with Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis within the next week to talk not only about the captain of the team, but I would assume Curran wants to find out exactly what the vision is for this team. Why? Because Curran also represents Hurricanes players Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner and Cam Ward. Both Staal brothers and Ward have no-trade clauses. So all roads lead through Curran. And the question remains: What does Francis have in mind for the future? It is a full rebuild? Or a quick re-tool? Where do the vets on the team fit into all that?

But it certainly starts with the captain, who has always maintained that he wanted to stay in Carolina, the only team he’s ever played for. He carries an $8.25 million cap hit but will earn $9.5 million in real money next season. No doubt if the Hurricanes sign him to an extension, they will want it at a discount.

Staal controls his fate with the no-trade clause but at the end of the day, I imagine he would want to stay on board only if he’s wanted by the team.

Here’s the rub, of course: Brother Jordan came to Carolina because he wanted to play with Eric. The way I see it, there’s no way Jordan would want to stay if Eric is gone. So there’s that to consider.

Either way, we should get some answers in the near future on where this is all headed.