Red Wings Role Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature forward Marc Staal
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 71-3-13-16
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Marc Staal has exceeded expectations since GM Steve Yzerman received a second-round pick to take his salary from the New York Rangers in 2020. He’s been more valuable than anyone anticipated. Whether it’s a practice or a game, Staal gives it everything he has.
He’s not as mobile as he once was, but he’s a fierce competitor. This season, he was one of the team’s most consistent performers as a bottom pair defenseman. Knows how to defend. Uses his 6-foot-4 frame effectively. A major influence in the dressing room. Moritz Seider learned how to be a professional from Staal. He’s like a playing assistant coach.
“I think it’s extremely important to have good models in your dressing room, how to do it right,” former Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said about Marc. “Certainly, Staalsy is someone who does it right every day. He shows up every day for practice, even the days when he’s not feeling great and works extremely hard, has a really good even-keel demeanor about him.”
2021-22 Red Wings Highlights
The game after joining brothers Eric and Jordan on the list of NHLers who had played 1,000 games, Marc registered the first two-goal game of his career. This marks the first time in the NHL’s 105-year history three brothers have logged 1,000 or more NHL games.
Marc Staal nets his second goal of the game to tie 4-4. The Red Wings now with three unanswered goals after trailing 4-1. pic.twitter.com/BFBjSwpKIg
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 16, 2022
The local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association name Marc Staal as its Masterton Trophy nominee for his dedication and perseverance during his NHL career.
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlight
Staal’s plus-minus went from +11 to -1 in the last 15 games of the 2020-21 regular-season.
— The Grind Line Podcast™ (@GrindLinePod) April 29, 2022
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
Marc Staal didn’t know until just before the start of last season’s free agency signing period whether the Red Wings were going to re-sign him. And it could be the same script this summer.
“In my previous talks with Steve I think he obviously has a lot of decisions to make and he’s not going to rush anything,” Staal said. “He’ll wait until the summertime to do his business. When we get there, we’ll see what happens, see if there’s a fit there and then we’ll go from there.”
The 35-year-old Staal is willing to be patient because he would like to stay in Detroit and views his career as year-to-year. Brother Jordan of the Carolina Hurricanes is 33 and still going strong. Older brother Eric is 37 and didn’t receive any NHL offers after he played for Canada at the Beijing Olympics last February.
“I’ve just enjoyed playing the role that I’ve had being with this team and building toward getting back into the playoffs,” Staal said. “It’s just a fun place to come to work. I’ve enjoyed competing with these guys and playing for the Red Wings. It’s been a fun couple of years.”
Staal would like to play as long as he can.
“But at the same time I have a family and moving from city to city for years on end can get tiring not only for me but especially my kids and my wife,” Staal said. “You obviously take all that into consideration once you get near the end. I’m looking forward to playing again next year and we’ll see what happens after that.”
It would be much easier on his family if he stayed in Detroit.
“I think we’re settled in here. My kids are in school until June and that’s not gonna change regardless of what happens,” Staal said. “Going into the summer, it’s like anything. If I go to free agency, then I go to free agency and we’ll see what happens there…Obviously you would like more stability when you have family and kids, because there’s a lot more planning involved with moving schools and all that stuff that goes along with it. It’s just the nature of the business.”
There’s no doubt the Red Wings want to re-sign him. He’s a pro’s pro, a valuable leader, a quality teacher for younger player. He plays hard every game.
But Yzerman has other factors to consider, such as whether he plans to bring in another veteran defenseman like he did last season when he acquired Nick Leddy. Holdovers Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek currently own two of the spots on the defense. He has to decide where Jake Walman and Gustav Lindstrom fit into the team. He needs to make sure he has roster room for rookie Simon Edvinsson if he makes the team. Does Yzerman keep a roster spot open in case Albert Johansson or Eemil Viro make the team? He will at least have to think about that before he decided about Staal.
Yzerman respects Staal and will likely try to find a spot for him. But there are no guarantees.