AHL stars still shining: Eric Staal

Chosen second overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, Eric Staal emerged as one of the premier players in the National Hockey League in 2005-06, scoring 45 goals and tallying 100 points.

Staal continued to tear up the competition and the stat sheets by leading all players in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 19 assists and 28 points, leading the Hurricanes to its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

After spending his rookie season in 2003-04 with the Hurricanes, recording 11 goals and 31 points in 81 games, Staal played the 2004-05 season with the American Hockey League’s Lowell Lock Monsters. Continuing to develop his skills with Lowell, Staal led the team with 51 assists and 77 points and played in the 2005 AHL All-Star Classic in Manchester, N.H.

Staal finished out the year tied for the league lead with a plus-minus rating of plus-37 and seven shorthanded goals in 77 regular-season games.

Today, still just 22 years old, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native has yet to slow down with the Hurricanes. Staal is tied for second on the team with 18 goals and ranks fifth with 35 points through 44 games with Carolina, who visit Toronto on Tuesday night.

Of the 394 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Daniel Briere, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Steve Sullivan and Kyle Wellwood.

The 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic will take place at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, home of the AHL’s Marlies. The event features the 2007 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 28 (7:00 ET) and the 2007 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 29 (7:00 ET), and will be televised live on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and on a network of regional broadcast partners in the United States.

For ticket and event information, visit http://www.torontomarlies.com/news/07allstargame.asp