As I mentioned earlier, the Pens position in trading while weaker doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It's kind of like the old tale of the Zen Master...."we'll see." This could very well be something that opens doors the Pens couldn't have explored before or puts them in a stronger situation than they realize.
If we abide by the "we'll see" mentality...let's see what could potentially happen:
Carolina now knows they can either be patient, wait the season out and then sign Staal since he's made it clear that Carolina is the only team he'd sign an extension with. Nothing in the world of sports is a given. Carolina waiting could hurt potentially hurt them. What if the Shero doesn't trade him, Staal plays in the top-six all season, has great success and the Pens make the Cup final and possibly wins the cup again.
That is a major game-changer. This gives the Penguins far more leverage and makes staying far more desirable despite him wanting to play with his siblings. Carolina now missed a chance and is back at square one.
What if Staal is traded to another team and LOVES it there. Carolina is now SOL.
Carolina trade their 8th overall pick to the Pens for Jordan Staal. I think throwing in Sutter or any other significant roster player with the 8th overall at this point is a long-shot. Truthfully, I think the 8th overall pick is a stretch. I could see Sutter and a 2nd round pick as being more likely, but for sake of the conversation, let's say it's the 8th overall straight up. What does this do/mean for the Pens?
1. $5M freed up with the cap going up. This in-turn means the Pens have lots of money to spend.
2. This makes the Pens a player for more high-profile players. If they're offering $6M for Staal, there's nothing that says they wouldn't/couldn't become big players for some of the bigger UFA names:
$7M on someone like Parise, $4M on Doan or $3M on Ryan Smith. The looming CBA probably makes it less likely they'd attempt to sign Parise, however, Doan or Smith would likely only be a two year deal.
Dominic Moore or Daymon Langkow for $1M to $1.5M on a 1 or 2 year deal.
3. The possibility of trading Martin. This in itself could free up $2 or $3M if the player they get in return makes $2 to $3M a year...and that could be for a solid 3rd line centerman.
4. Money freed up to grab Bryan Allen or other types of Dmen the Pens need.
5. The Pens get the 8th overall! Right now, it's looking like the top 10 picks are stellar.
Other teams like Buffalo want Staal very badly and think bringing him in makes them instantly a playoff team. These type of teams will take him on as a rental with the idea of helping to change his mind on Carolina. What could/would a team like Buffalo offer?
-12th overall pick
-maybe Stafford, Hodgson, or perhaps Sekera? How bad do they want him?
Don't for a second think that teams like Anaheim, Buffalo, Dallas, or Calgary won't trade away a solid piece even as a rental. I know this goes again my own logic and what I've been saying wouldn't happen. But these are the wild card situations that may be a stretch, but that aren't out of the realm of possibility because teams in their positions just happen to make moves like this. While Staal isn't Sid, Ovechkin or Stamkos, you put him on teams like the aforementioned, and they become much more serious contenders. A player like Staal is the missing part to their puzzle and a good price.
Again, it may not be likely which I've been preaching this entire time, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
So, is this lack of leverage bad? Right now, yes...but we'll see.