Montreal Canadiens fans think GM Marc Bergevin got a good deal by getting Eric Staal from Buffalo Sabers on March 26th and they’re swallowing their words these days.
The 36-year-old is clearly in his final miles, and the current season is tough to say the least, as observers noted when they saw the 2006 Stanley Cup winner in action. He’s just a shadow of himself, and the exchange that sent him to Quebec City didn’t seem to change anything.
With a record of three goals and seven assists in 32 games before leaving Cypress, Stal had a terrible -20 lead. In Montreal, many thought he would turn back, especially as he scored the decisive goal in his blue, white and red outfit debut on April 5 against the Edmonton Oilers.
However, since that time, nothing. Stal was unable to score a single point in his next seven matches. At six of them, he finished the game with a negative margin, although he currently plays in fourth streak with Corey Perry and Arturi Lukonen.
The April 8 match with the Winnipeg Jets was particularly bad for Stal, who finished the match at -3. Then, on Saturday, against Senators in Ottawa, his total was 10:19, his weakest use since joining the Canadians.
The remainder of the intense schedule does not bode well for those claiming 1,280 games in the regular season. The next three weeks will include four duels in six days, not to mention the last two of the campaign, scheduled for May 10 and 12 at Bell Center v. Oilers.
Consequently, head coach Dominic Ducharme will have to determine if Stahl is able to keep up with all of these games or whether it is better to contact Jake Evans, who has not played since Monday. Also, this week he will be betting on two new defenders, Eric Gustafson and John Merrill. Will he be able to use seven defending players and 11 forwards on a few occasions?
Finally, it must be remembered that young Cole Caufield, who has been promoted to the reserve team, is there and is waiting for a signal to start his National Hockey League debut.