No Eric Staal in the Olympics should come as no surprise
Canada’s roster for the upcoming Olympics in Sochi is finally set, and many of the names are pretty much who you would expect to see.
Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Patrick Sharp are familiar forwards who are producing at solid offensive paces.
Stamkos and Nash have battled serious injuries, but when healthy, are pure scorers.
Then there are the likes of Duncan Keith and Carey Price that round out the rest of the roster, but one of the players who Steve Yzerman and his committee decided not to bring back from the 2010 gold medal run in Vancouver is Eric Staal.
Much to the chagrin of many Hurricanes fans, Staal, who scored a goal and added five assists for Canada in 2010, will be watching the Olympics from home.
I may be in the minority of those close to the Hurricanes organization, but I believe that is the right choice.
Sure, Staal is the captain in Carolina, but after suffering a knee injury in the 2013 IIHF World Championship, Staal started slow this season and that is what doomed him to miss the cut.
There’s no personal vendetta out against Staal. No one is wringing their hands maniacally at the prospect of a depressed Staal sitting home during the Olympic break.
When compared apples-to-apples statically with those who were selected, Staal’s numbers do not make him an Olympian this year.
For the sake of a straight statistical analysis, averaging the point totals for those selected to Team Canada so far this season as of 8:00 p.m. on Jan. 8, reveals that the selected Olympians have scored a mean point total of 40.1.
Where does Staal fall on that spectrum? In 42 games, he has totaled 35 points, so, just below the average.
That average also factors in the point totals of Nash and Stamkos who have both missed roughly half of the season with a concussion and a broken tibia, respectively.
Not only does Staal sit below the average point scoring totals of the Olympic group, he is also alone in +/- rating.
If Staal was part of the Olympic team, his -15 rating would make him one of two minus players.
The other? Nash, who is a -2 in 15 fewer games than Staal.
How bad is Staal’s -15 rating, you ask?
It’s bad enough to rank him 785th among NHL players.
I know, many hockey fans aren’t keen on judging players by +/- rating, but like it or not, Staal’s is bad, and his point totals aren’t high enough to cover it up.
Like it or not, it’s part of the reason why Staal’s play is not of Olympic caliber, at least not at this point in time.
When the Hurricanes took home the cup in 2005-06, Staal notched 100 points. He hasn’t scored more than 85 during any other season in the NHL and isn’t on pace to do it this season, either.
Staal is on pace to score approximately 20 goals and score around 70 points this season. Productive, sure, but a stark contrast to the 80+ point seasons most of his healthy Olympic peers are on pace for.
Indeed, the $8 million man is a consistent captain for Carolina.
But the harsh reality is, he’s not Olympic material this year and was left off the roster for a reason.
He was beat out this year by the 24-year old Jamie Benn and the 23-year old Tavares.
He’s not getting any younger and Carolina should hope this trial will motivate him down the stretch for the Hurricanes who are currently one point out of playoff position.
I’m a Carolina writer and fan, but I am capable of taking off my emotional blinders and analyzing something like this for what it is.
It’s a shame Staal won’t be in Sochi, but in a dog-eat-dog league, that’s how it goes sometimes.
After all, there’s always 2018.