Henry Hank wrote:Staal's role will only increase. Regardless of his place on ES lines, he gets third most ice time among forwards. That's all that really matters. But regardless of that, he's not going to remain on a 3rd line for life. Number one, there's still never been any logic in the group think about what his position can be. When he was a rookie and scoring 29 goals, mostly as a wing, just about everyone agreed that he should be a winger and didn't have the play-making ability to play center. Somewhere along the line, it was determined that he can't play wing and must stay at center. I've still yet to here a logical explanation for any of that.
I believe next year either he'll be on the wing on the top two lines or he'll center one and they'll match up Crosby and Malkin in lieu of getting a better winger.
I think that people view Staal as being too weak on the boards, in front of the net and on the forecheck to make him a good fit as a wing. His hands are also suspect right now, which obviously hurts his chances in the goal-scoring department. Having said all that, he's only 20 years old and we have all gotten used to the instant gratification of having guys like Sid and Geno come in as rookies, dominate and keep it up throughout their careers.
I tend to believe that Staal will definitely improve, but I don't think he's ever going to be the 40 goal power forward that most folks envision him as.
Also, I also think that we are moving closer and closer to having Geno and Sid on the same line night in, night out as well.