Eric Staal was born October 29, 1984 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The first round, second overall selection of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Staal is a graduate of the OHL's Peterborough Petes.
Both an offensively and defensively gifted forward who has drawn comparisons to Ron Francis, Staal played two seasons in Peterborough tallying 160 points (62-98-160) before making his NHL debut with Carolina during the 2003-04 season. In his first season with the Canes, the former Pete tallied 31 points (11-20-31) in 81 games.
During the NHL lockout of 2004-05 Staal spent a season with the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate the Lowell Lock Monsters. While competing with Lowell, Staal enjoyed an offensive outbreak establishing new club franchise records in points (77), assists (51), plus/minus (+37) and shorthanded goals (7) in a single season.
Entering his second year with the Carolina Hurricanes Staal's offensive tear continued as he racked up 100 points, (45 goals, 55 assists) in the 2005-06 NHL regular season. That season, he led the Hurricanes and was sixth best in the league in point production. His offensive power contributed to Carolina's franchise best regular season in history as they entered the NHL playoffs in the second seed of the Eastern Conference. Staal continued to light the lamp in the 2006 playoffs scoring many timely goals including seven power play goals. Staal's youthful enthusiasm and relentless forechecking helped the Carolina Hurricanes win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
After signing a three year $13.5 million contract with the Hurricanes, Staal continued to produce offensively for the 'Canes over the next few seasons despite the club's struggles to get back in to the playoff picture. At the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, Staal recorded recorded 2 goals and an assist and was named the MVP award for the event.
Internationally, Staal represented Canada at the 2007 and 2008 World Championships earning a gold a silver medal respectively.
At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver , Staal was part of the Canadian team that captured gold on home soil.
During the lockout shortened season of 2013, Staal would record an impressive 53 points in 48 games to once again lead the Hurricanes. His offensive numbers would dip the following season, when he posted 61 points in 79 games. His stats would continue to fall in 2014-15, when he recorded just 54 points and rumours began to swirl that the Hurricanes may be willing to trade their captain.
Rumours became a reality on February 29, 2016, the NHL's trade deadline when the Hurricanes traded Staal to the New York Rangers in exchange for a pair of second round draft picks. He would finish the season with the Rangers and sign with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent in the summer of 2016.
On March 19, 2017, Staal played in his 1,000 NHL game, becoming the 307th player to reach the mark and the fifth to do so while a member of the Wild.