Date of Birth:  October 29, 1984
 Place of Birth: Thunder Bay, ON
 Residence: N/A
 Years on National Team:
 Height:  6'4"
 Weight: 205 lbs.

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft may have been the deepest draft in the last 20 years: Marc-Andre Fleury, Nathan Horton, Nikolai Zherdev, Dion Phaneuf, Thomas Vanek and Brent Seabrook all have made immediate impacts on their respective teams this season. Yet, Carolina Hurricanes' second overall pick, Eric Staal, is the one that has turned the most heads thus far.

Staal made his NHL debut during the 2003-04 season but his first NHL campaign was considered by many to be a disappointment. He finished the year with 31 points in 81 games. This year is another story, however. Staal had already surpassed his 2003-04 totals at mid-season and was averaging over a point per game.

Staal has been an impact player at every level. He played with the Peterborough Petes from 2000-03 and collected a staggering 209 points in 185 career games. During 2004-05 NHL lockout season, he amassed 77 points in 77 games for the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL, led the league in both shorthanded goals and plus/minus, and finished 10th overall in scoring.

The young center's international experience is limited, but he did win gold with the Canadian U-18 team at the 2001 Six Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic. And, in 2002 he was named one of the alternate captains for Canada's U-18 team at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Slovakia.

When all will be said and done, Eric may not be the only member of the Staal family to have graced the NHL. His 19-year-old brother Marc was drafted in 2005 by the New York Rangers and was recently named Top Defensive Player at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Vancouver, while Jordan is expected to be a first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and Jared will enter this year's OHL Entry Draft.

Staal was named to Team Canada's Taxi Squad, along with Bryan McCabe and Jason Spezza. If an injury arises and Staal is given the chance to play, he will undoubtedly be an asset to an already powerful Canadian team.

2006 Hockey Coverage