September 7, 2018 / 3:22 AM / 10 months ago

Wild C Staal awaiting contract talks after season begins

Mar 10, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal (12) and Edmonton Oilers defensemen Ethan Bear (74) battle for a loose puck during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Staal, Minnesota’s leading scorer a season ago, is eager to talk with the Wild about a long-term future with the team.

“I’ve let it be known that I’ve enjoyed it and I’d like to stay,” Staal said during the NHL Player Media Tour on Thursday. “I think it’s a great fit for me hockey-wise. They’re a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup real bad and so do I.”

Staal, 33, says he has spoken briefly with general manager Paul Fenton about a new contract, but that they agreed to get the season underway first. Staal is entering the final season of his three-year contract.

Envisioning a run at the NHL title is the difference between this season and three seasons ago, when he was finishing up a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, who weren’t expected to be a factor in the postseason.

The Hurricanes dealt him to the New York Rangers in February 2016.

“This is a team that expects to win,” Staal said. “That makes it a different situation just for me, my own mental side. In Carolina, I could see the writing on the wall and it was one of those things where we were kind of methodically going through the months to get to the point where it was time for me to move on. It doesn’t have that same feel.”

Staal, a center, scored 42 goals last season, just three off his career high, which came in his second season with the Hurricanes in 2005-06. His 76 points were tied for third-best in his 14 seasons.

The Hurricanes selected Staal second overall in the 2003 draft. In 909 games, he has 775 points on 322 goals and 453 assists.

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