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Pens deal Staal to Carolina

| Friday, June 22, 2012, 8:24 p.m.
Penguins center Jordan Staal was traded Friday night to the Carolina Hurricanes for center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick, which they used to select defenseman Derrick Pouliot from Portland of the WHL. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review file)
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Brandon Sutter finished the 2012 season with 17 goals and 15 assists as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 overall pick were sent to the Penguins for Jordan Staal March 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Derrick Pouliot, eighth overall pick by the Penguins, poses on stage during the NHL Entry Draft on June 22, 2012, at Consol Energy Center. (Getty Images)

The Penguins won a Stanley Cup with Jordan Staal and may try to reclaim it with Zach Parise.

Staal, general manager Ray Shero's first-ever draft pick, was traded to Carolina Friday evening for center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick, which they used to select high-scoring junior defenseman Derrick Pouliot.

That move saved the Penguins about $2 million in salary cap space. The move they made at the end of the first round — they traded defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix for two prospects and a third-round pick — netted them $4 million in additional space, freeing up about $6 million to pursue Parise, the marquee winger on the free agent market that opens July 1.

The Penguins expect to reach a long-term extension with center Sidney Crosby this summer and want to give him a fixture at wing throughout the prime years of his career, a team source said.

Crosby and Parise played together at Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school in Minnesota and remain close friends. They attended Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles.

Parise, 27, has scored 30 goals in each of his past five healthy seasons with the New Jersey Devils. He has scored 194 goals in 502 career games.

Staal, 23, scored 120 goals in 431 games while playing the role as the top penalty killer in six seasons with the Penguins. However, he declined a 10-year offer from the Penguins on Thursday and was intent on testing free agency in 2013. Staal, who was married Friday night, wants to play with older brother Eric, who is the Hurricanes' captain.

That prompted Shero to act swiftly.

“I always felt that up until some point Friday, Jordan was going to be back with us next year,” Shero said, adding that talks yesterday with the Hurricanes were aggressive.

Here's how the Staal trade transpired:

Rutherford initiated talks with Shero on two occasions during the past two months. “I made Ray aware of our interest when their season ended,” Rutherford said.

Shero said at his season-ending news conference on April 24 that he “wasn't sure” if he'd be able to keep centers Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Staal together. On that day Staal, when asked if the centers could remain happy in Pittsburgh, said: “That's a good question.”

Rutherford said he called Shero “after he said he might not be able to keep the big guys together.”

Nothing concrete was discussed, as Shero's desire to sign Staal to an extension was legitimate. He offered Staal a 10-year, $60 million contract that was rejected on Thursday. That's when Staal's desire to play in Carolina became public. Less than 24 hours later, Rutherford called Shero.

“I talked with him at 4:20,” Rutherford said. “We made that deal at a quarter to seven.”

Acquiring Sutter, 23, an ideal fit as third-line center, was paramount for Shero to agree to the deal.

Michalek, 29, was traded to his former team in a move that will save the Penguins $12 million over the next three seasons. One of two perceived jewel acquisitions in 2010, Michalek, a shutdown defender in Phoenix, never thrived with the Penguins.

Shero's other big signing in 2010, Paul Martin, was being actively shopped by the Penguins entering the draft. Shero did not dismiss the possibility of more moves later this summer.

“We're just going to see what happens over the next little bit,” Shero said.

Shero said he believes the salary cap will hover around $70 million next season. If that figure is accurate, the Penguins would currently be close to $15 million under, though the looming expiration of the collective bargaining agreement could alter the NHL's landscape.

But with their busy Friday, the Penguins have positioned themselves for the next phase of the Shero era.

Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Yohe can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com. Rossi can be reached at rrossi@tribweb.com.

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