The Penguins traded the talented center to the Carolina Hurricanes for two players and Carolina's first-round pick in the NHL draft that was held in Pittsburgh on Friday night.
The 23-year-old Staal helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009, but reportedly balked at signing a contract extension. Staal has one season left on his current four-year deal. Rather than continue negotiating, the Penguins shipped him to the Hurricanes, where Staal will join brother Eric Staal. Carolina also has Jared Staal -- currently playing in the American Hockey League.
Pittsburgh received center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Brian Dumoulin in the deal as well as Carolina's eighth-overall pick in the draft, which the Penguins used to select defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
On a day when speculation about the future of Columbus star Rick Nash abounded, it was the Penguins who provided the draft with a jolt by sending the popular Staal packing.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at the impact moments before announcing the trade.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero thanked Staal for his contributions to the franchise before taking Pouliot as the capacity crowd at Consol Energy Center roared its approval. The move is a stunning end to a hugely successful run in Pittsburgh for Staal, the team's sixth pick in the 2006 draft who is getting married this weekend with most of his former Penguins teammates expected to attend.
"We wanted a deal (with Staal)," Shero said. "But it was obvious in the last 24 hours that ... this was the right thing to do."
Staal quickly developed into a linchpin of Pittsburgh's meteoric rise through the league. Teaming with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Staal gave the Penguins arguably the best trio of centers in the NHL. He was a valuable penalty killer and began developing a deft touch around the net in recent years. He scored a career-high 25 goals in the 2011-12 season despite missing 20 games due to injury.
The move gives Carolina an elite young forward they hope will continue to flourish alongside big brother Eric.
"Right back to when all these Staal brothers were drafted, they said at some point in their career, they'd all like to play together," Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said. "This will be a real good fit for them. I think they can have some fun with this. These are guys that can dominate games, and so I think it all fits together for the two brothers and the family."
The Hurricanes entered the offseason hoping to pick up a top-shelf forward to complement Eric Staal, the team captain and unquestioned face of the franchise, either via a trade or free agency. Jordan Staal and Nash were the biggest names on the trade front. New Jersey's Zach Parise heads up the free-agent class that can begin talking to new teams on July 1.
Once Staal reportedly turned down an extension earlier this week to stay in Pittsburgh, speculation quickly picked up around the Hurricanes.
Rutherford said Shero called him at about 4:20 p.m. on Friday to say he probably would be moving Staal. He said the deal with Carolina was completed at 6:45 p.m. and announced moments before the Hurricanes were to make their first-round pick at No. 8.
Rutherford said contract talks with Jordan Staal -- whose current deal expires after the 2012-13 season -- will probably begin in early July.
The price Carolina had to pay for their third Staal was rather steep.
The 23-year-old Sutter, the Hurricanes' first-round pick in 2007, has 53 goals and 54 assists in parts of four promising NHL seasons. The durable son of former Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter -- and a member of one of the sport's most famous families -- was fifth on the team with 17 goals this season. He hasn't missed a game since the 2009-10 season.
Dumoulin, 21, was taken by Carolina in the second round in 2009, and he helped Boston College win the Frozen Four in April before signing a three-year, entry-level contract. The Hurricanes gave up their only first-round pick, but they will pick nine times during rounds 2-7 on Saturday.
"No question, I really think a lot of Brandon as a person, and I think he's one of the best two-way centers in the league," Rutherford said. "That was a very tough part of this deal, to give him up, but when you're looking at acquiring an elite player, you usually end up giving something that you don't want to give.
"We gave three good pieces to Pittsburgh in order to get Jordan, but it's hard to find a Jordan Staal in the National Hockey League."