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JORDAN STAAL HOPES TO CONTINUE FAMILY TRADITION IN NHL

Tuesday, 06.06.2006 / 12:00 AM / Features
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JORDAN STAAL HOPES TO CONTINUE FAMILY TRADITION IN NHL
There are many great hockey families – Howe, Hull, Sutter and Richard, to name a few.

Could Staal be next?

Jordan, soon to be the third Staal brother to join the NHL ranks, sure hopes so. He is the NHL Central Scouting Service’s second-rated prospect for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft on June 24 at 6 p.m. at General Motors Place in Vancouver. It will be televised on OLN in the United States.

On that day, Staal will be the third member of his family to be drafted. Oldest brother Eric is a star forward for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are in the Stanley Cup Finals. Another brother, Marc, was drafted by the New York Rangers last year. He is a defenseman.

“When you see Eric almost lighting it up in the NHL, it’s a pretty sweet experience,” Jordan said. “Marc and I are just trying to do our best. It’s been a pretty good year for us.”

Indeed.

Jordan, a 17-year-old center, racked up 68 points (28+40) in 68 games for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. He helped guide the Petes to an OHL title and the Memorial Cup playoffs.

“I am just trying to improve and get better,” he said.

Jordan has improved enough that he could be the top pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Eric went second overall to Carolina in 2003, while Marc, a defenseman, was picked 12th overall a year ago by the Rangers.

“That’d be a pretty amazing experience, for sure. It could be a long shot, but it’d be a great time,” Jordan said. “I haven’t really though about it. I don’t even know the draft order, really. I haven’t had a chance to gather my thoughts in a while.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins own the second-overall pick. St. Louis drafts first and if the Blues take top-rated Erik Johnson, Jordan could find himself in a Penguins uniform alongside young stars Sidney Crosby, Ryan Whitney, Noah Welch, Colby Armstrong and Marc-Andre Fleury, who was picked first-overall before Eric Staal in 2003.

The idea of joining a team filled with such an abundance of young talent is very desirable for Jordan.

“For sure. I am excited to go anywhere, it doesn’t matter where I end up,” he said. “If it’s Pittsburgh, it’s Pittsburgh. I’d be excited to go there, too, so we’ll see how it ends up on draft day.

“We haven’t talked about it yet. We’re all pretty focused on how well Eric is doing in the NHL,” he continued. “I am sure when he’s finished up we’ll have a little chat about it, but it won’t be that big of a deal.”

The family isn’t done producing talent just yet. The youngest brother – Jared – is a highly-touted prospect. The 15-year-old forward will play in Sudbury in the OHL this season.

“Little J is pretty excited to head over there and show what he has,” Jordan said. “We’re all just trying to play our best hockey and go from there.”

Jordan is a physical specimen. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is listed as a center, but he doesn’t mind playing on a wing.

“I wouldn’t mind as long as I get the chance to play. I will play wherever they put me,” he said. “I am looking for the opportunity.”

He hopes the opportunity comes quickly. Even though he won’t turn 18 until Sept. 10, Jordan is already ahead of where Eric was at the same age, according to many.

“Next year, I think I am pretty confident I can jump in,” he said. “It’s a long shot, but as long as I get my chance, I think I’ll jump on the opportunity.”

Central Scouting Report on Jordan Staal: Is a premier forward who is an excellent skater with a wide base style that makes him solid on his skates…has a long fluid stride with very good agility and speed…uses his tremendous size and long reach to protect the puck very well…possesses a powerful shot both slap and wrist that he gets off quickly and accurately…sees the ice very well and is able to move the puck through traffic with hard or soft passes as the situation calls for both on the forehand and backhand…is an excellent face-off man, who seldom loses a draw, and is often used to take important face offs…has the ability to tie up the opposing center and use his feet to kick the puck back but also wins many draws cleanly…at times throughout the season he was used on the point on the power play and is also an excellent penalty killer…uses his long reach very well to block the passing lanes…gives a solid two-way effort and is a quiet type of competitor who uses very good anticipation and hockey sense rather than physical strength to be effective defensively…not a punishing type of player but does get involved in traffic and is able to separate opponents from the puck…Peterborough’s 1st pick, 3rd overall in the 2004 OHL priority selection…was a member of Team Canada for the 2005 Junior World Cup…was voted to the 2006 CHL Top Prospects Game in Ottawa…selected to play in the 2005 CHL Russia Challenge…voted to the 2006 OHL All-Star game in Belleville…voted to the 2004-05 OHL 2nd All-Rookie Team.

Personal Profile: Nickname is Staalzy…favorite team is Vancouver…favorite player is Canucks’ Todd Bertuzzi…wears number 11 because he has always had it…says his parents have had the most influence on his career because “they have helped me get this far”…patterns his game after Bertuzzi in being a power forward…most admires Bobby Orr because he is “so down to earth while being really famous” …most memorable hockey game played was the playoffs against Belleville because “we knocked them out”…most memorable hockey game watched was the 2002 Olympic gold medal game…favorites include: Whose Line is it Anyway (TV show), Wedding Crashers (movie), Vince Vaughn (actor) and Collective Soul (musical group)…if he could have dinner with any three people he would invite Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jim Carrey because “they’re all hilarious.”

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