Hurricanes agree to terms with C Staal

Updated: October 6, 2003, 11:19 AM ET

RALEIGH, North Carolina - The Carolina Hurricanes may have one of the oldest forwards in the NHL skating with one of the youngest after agreeing to terms on a three-year contract with center Eric Staal on Monday.

The team did not reveal financial terms, but the Raleigh News & Observer reports Staal will receive $1.24 million per year plus performance bonuses.

Selected with the second overall pick in the 2003 draft, Staal is expected to center a line with Jeff O'Neill and 40-year-old captain Ron Francis. The 18-year-old Staal led the NHL with seven goals in the preseason.

"Eric has clearly earned a spot on the Hurricanes with his exceptional play," Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said. "It is apparent that he will play an important role with the team at a very young age."

Staal was seventh in the Ontario Hockey League in scoring last season with 39 goals and 59 assists in 66 games. His cousin, winger Jeff Heerema, was Carolina's 1998 first-round pick.

The Hurricanes reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2002, but finished last in the Southeast Division last season.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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