Another Staal brother on the way

Like the Sutter’s a short time ago, hockey is now witnessing a new generation of brother acts who are making their way to the NHL.

Currently in the National Hockey League, there are the duos of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Mikko and Saku Koivu and a whole list of others. The future also looks bright as two of Ray Bourque’s sons in Ryan and Chris have both been drafted by NHL teams and could likely be NHL regulars in the coming years ahead. While the list of brothers in the NHL continues to grow, few families in hockey are generating as much notoriety as the Staal brothers.

Despite only being in their early to mid twenties, Eric, Jordan and Marc Staal have compiled an impressive NHL resume to this point in their respective careers. All three players have been selected for the 46 man orientation camp for the Canadian Olympic team as a good first half of the season could help solidify a roster spot for any of the brothers. Both Eric and Jordan have also sipped champagne from the holy grail with Jordan’s Cup triumph coming just last month in a thrilling seven-game series against the Detroit Red Wings.

While Eric, Jordan and Marc have gained a lot of recognition in the hockey world over the last few years, there is yet another Staal brother on the way to the professional ranks. I recently had the opportunity to speak to the youngest Staal brother, Jared, who spoke to me about some of his experiences in the game of hockey and some of his expectations for the upcoming season.

After spending his junior career with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, Jared was selected as the 49th pick in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. While the Coyotes remain a franchise with veteran players like Ed Jovanoski and Shane Doan, the organization is also going through a youth movement of sorts.

When asking Jared his thoughts on being selected by the Coyotes, Jared was quick to acknowledge some of the young players in the organization.

“Right when I got drafted, it was exciting to go to a group with young talent like Boedker, Mueller and Turris,” said the youngest Staal brother.

Of those three players mentioned by Jared, Mueller is the eldest of the group at 21 years old while Boedker and Turris are both 19. Other young players who have also been given an opportunity to play with the Coyotes at the NHL level have included Russian winger Victor Tikhonov and Czech forward Martin Hanzel.

At the young age of 18 years old, Jared Staal has plenty of time to prove himself in the professional ranks of the National Hockey League. The young winger is quick to point to some of the attributes that have allowed him to get to this point in his hockey career.

“I see the ice very well and I also think the game pretty good,” said Jared Staal. “I try to use my size to the best of my advantage.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jared also recognizes that like all young players he needs to make some improvements in his game in order to better prepare himself for the NHL.

“I need to get stronger and quicker because so much is about time and space when you get to the NHL,” Staal said about the pro game. “Guys come at you that much faster.”

The upcoming year should be another step forward in the development of Jared Staal’s hockey career as he has continually gone through a gradual progression of sorts. For much of the past three seasons, Jared has spent his career playing under head coach and general manager Mike Foligno with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL.

Jared is quick to point out that he has a lot of respect for Foligno as the Wolves coach had a lengthy playing career in the NHL with teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres.

After starting his career in the OHL with two goals in 63 games, Jared rebounded in his sophomore campaign by scoring 21 goals the following year. The most recent 2008-09 season saw Jared compile a career high 52 points in the OHL. Despite his numbers last season though, Jared still feels there are aspects of his game that he needs to work on.

“Last year was an up and down year,” said Jared Staal about last season in the OHL. “I expect myself to keep improving as I just need to be more consistent on a regular basis.”

The upcoming hockey season should be very interesting for Jared as there could be any number of possibilities for where he will be playing. When evaluating his chances of cracking the Coyotes lineup in 2009-10, Jared is quick to note that he will give it his full effort wherever he is playing.

“I want to give myself the best opportunity to make the team but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to junior and hopefully dominate there,” said Jared.

Along with the experience that Jared has with the Sudbury Wolves, Jared was also able to see a few games of playing time last year with the AHL affiliate of the Coyotes, the San Antonio Rampage.

After recently seeing his brother Jordan win the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jared clearly knows where his motivation lies when it comes to making it to the NHL.

“I watched every game on TV,” says Jared. “When they won it, it gave me chills. Hopefully one day I can be in his position as well.”

Seeing his brother Jordan win the Stanley Cup was a true joy for Jared just like it was years earlier when he witnessed his oldest brother Eric hoist the Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. For Jared Staal, the ultimate goal in hockey is the opportunity to be called a Stanley Cup champion.

As the youngest Staal brother, Jared has yet to achieve the notoriety of any of his three older brothers as he is still only 18 years old. In the coming years, hockey fans will become more familiar with Jared as he works towards becoming a regular on the Phoenix Coyotes roster.

One can only hope that Jared Staal has a bright hockey future ahead of him and will achieve his dream of one day hoisting the Stanley Cup.

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