Stall signs 7-year deal with Hurricanes

September 12, 2008 12:42:35 PM PDT
As they try to return to the playoffs for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes have locked up one of their young stars for the long haul.

A source told ESPN.com that All-Star center Eric Staal has signed a seven-year contract extension with Carolina worth between $56 million and $60 million. The new deal will not kick in until the 2009-10 season.

Staal will earn $5 million this season, the last year of a three-year deal he signed in 2006. He was eligible for restricted free agency after the coming season.

The Hurricanes are expected to announce the deal at 2 p.m. ET.

Carolina and its 23-year-old star open training camp next week.

"They know I want to be here, they know that I really enjoy the area and love the organization," Staal said Tuesday.

Staal, a first-round draft pick in 2003 who is entering his fifth season, has blossomed into a point-a-game scorer, anchor of the top line and MVP of last year's All-Star Game.

"He's one of the elite players in the game," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said earlier this week. "He's young, he's gifted. ? I don't think anybody would be disappointed to see Eric Staal be here and play out his whole career here."

Staal, who had 100 points three seasons ago in leading the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup, bounced back from a disappointing-by-his-standards 2006-07 season with 38 goals and 44 assists in 2007-08. That followed a busy summer in which he got married, endured an embarrassing arrest following his noisy bachelor party, and was pictured on the cover of the "NHL 08" video game.

His performance prompted then-captain Rod Brind'Amour to proclaim of Staal: "I don't see any reason he can't be talked about with the Sidney Crosbys and [Evgeni] Malkins when it's all said and done, because he is that good, I think."


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