2023 Flyers New Additions: Marc Staal

Marc Staal
FILE – Florida Panthers’ Marc Staal (18) waits for a face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. Marc Staal is joining the Philadelphia Flyers, signing a $1.1 million contract for next season with a team embarking on a lengthy rebuilding process. General manager Daniel Briere announced the signing Monday, July 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)
(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)

In the NHL, veterans play a valuable role. Teams rely on veteran depth for a postseason push, like the Florida Panthers. Alternatively, franchises amid a rebuild, such as the Philadelphia Flyers, find value in veterans as mentors who lead by example.

Marc Staal held his ground along the second defensive pairing with the Panthers last season. For the first time since 2014-2015, Staal competed in 80 games or more. Staal totaled 15 points (3G, 12A) with a +10 rating in 2022-2023. His contributions helped push the Panthers into a stellar playoff run.

A wildcard team, the Panthers finished fourth in the NHL Atlantic Division. When they took the ice, it was must-see. The Panthers began with the utterly shocking elimination of the Boston Bruins in the first round. Then, they dominated the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. Eventually, the Vegas Golden Knights stopped the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Finals, 4-1.

What impressed about Staal is that he played some of his best hockey since 2019-2020, when he finished his 13-season run with the New York Rangers. He is 36.

He didn’t exactly slow down, with or without the puck, exceeding a hundred hits (152) and blocked shots (122) for the first time since 2010-2011.

Bill Zito signed Staal to a 1yr/$750k contract a season ago. On a rental with the Panthers, he improved from his performance the season prior with the Detroit Red Wings. Daniel Briere took notice of the value Staal can provide to the rebuilding Flyers, agreeing to a 1yr/$1.1mil contract on July 3rd, 2023.

Next season, Staal will turn 37. That alone diminishes the market Staal had this offseason. Briere signed Staal to help younger skaters like Cam York and Yegor Zamula in the lineup. Zamula isn’t waivers exempt, meaning he likely doesn’t return to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Staal and Zamula could rotate in the lineup, or if both dress, then Nick Seeler or Sean Walker could sit.

“There’s a few guys that are right there. A lot of [the] time, as an organization, you get eager, [and] you go out and sign some guys, and it blocks your young guys. We’re trying to be understanding of that, and make sure before we move too far in that direction that we know what we have now.”

Daniel Briere; 7/3/2023

Additionally, Staal has a history with John Tortorella from his time with the Rangers. Like Cam Atkinson with the forwards, Staal could help the defensemen understand what Tortorella expects from his lineup. His expertise will be beneficial to the growth of the Flyers’ defensive prospects. Emil Andrae, Ronnie Attard, Adam Ginning, and Helge Grans are all skaters who could benefit from this depth, veteran defenseman signing by Briere.

“A little bit of veteran presence to help our young guys. We never thought that a player like Marc Staal would have any interest in coming here. We were pretty excited when we found out there was a mutual interest. I think it almost makes too much sense to add a guy like that who played for Torts, understands what Torts is all about, [and] is willing to pass that message. Where is he going to fit in the lineup? We were very clear with him in what we’re doing here and where the process is going, and he wants to help out. He’s also a competitor, he’s going to play hard and try to push our guys; play more and more like what he did in Florida.”

Daniel Briere; 7/3/2023

The one-year agreement between the Flyers and Staal could turn full circle. Staal might return a late-round draft pick from a team pushing to make the postseason by the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline.

This signing shows great structure from Briere, planning for the rebuild while minding future considerations as a return for an established veteran.

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)