Canadiens acquire veteran centre Eric Staal from lowly Sabres for two draft picks

Eric Staal is heading north.

Canadiens acquire veteran centre Eric Staal from lowly Sabres for two draft picks

MONTREAL — Eric Staal is heading north.

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired the veteran centre from the Buffalo Sabres for the club's third- and fifth-round picks in the 2021 NHL draft.

As part of the deal announced Friday, the Sabres will retain half of Staal's US$3.25-million salary.

The 36-year-old played 32 games with last-place Buffalo in 2021, registering three goals and 10 points. 

Staal, who made his NHL debut in 2003, has 439 goals and 1,031 points in 1,272 regular-season games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Sabres. A Stanley Cup champion with Carolina in 2006, the Thunder Bay, Ont., product has added 21 goals and 51 points in 62 playoff contests.

Staal will have to serve a quarantine before joining his new team due to border restrictions related to non-essential travel.

Montreal had four of its games postponed this week and the club's practice facility closed after forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were added to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed Thursday that one of his players had tested positive for a variant.

The No. 2 pick by Carolina at the 2003 draft, Staal helped Canada win gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He also topped the podium at the 2007 world championships and earned a silver medal at the same tournament in 2008.

The Sabres are currently on an ugly 16-game winless streak.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press