Eric Staal expects to skate Sunday, debut with Canadiens unknown

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Eric Staal said he expects to skate Sunday, but the center is unsure when he will make his debut with the Montreal Canadiens. 

Staal was traded to the Canadiens by the Buffalo Sabres on March 26 for a third-round and a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He arrived in Montreal on Saturday and began a mandatory seven-day quarantine.

“Days have been going by relatively smoothly,” Staal said on the “NHL @TheRink” podcast recorded Thursday. “I have to go into COVID test every morning, and I’ve been doing some video with the coaching staff to get some familiarity with systems and the way that we play.

“They’ve got me a bike, some dumbbells, so I go through some home workouts. A couple more days, but obviously part of the process. Sunday I’m free, so I’m going to be on the ice and looking forward to it.”

Staal told co-hosts Dan Rosen and Shawn P. Roarke that he hasn’t talked with coach Dominique Ducharme about when he’ll play his first game with the Canadiens, but he expects that conversation to happen soon. The first game he would be eligible to play is against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

Staal watched the Canadiens defeat the Oilers 4-0 on Tuesday from the Montreal condo where he is staying.

“It was fun watching them the other night, they played really well and beat the Oilers, played a great game,” Staal said. “We’ll be keeping an eye again tonight (at the Ottawa Senators) and trying to pick up what I can as far as style and systems, and just be excited for when I get a chance to get in the lineup.”

Staal also talked about what his role will be with the Canadiens, getting to know the Scotia North Division, his future in the NHL, and what went wrong this season in Buffalo that led to him being traded.

In addition, Rosen and Roarke broke down how the Stanley Cup Playoff races, specifically in the Discover Central Division, Honda West Division and MassMutual East Division, will impact the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, which is April 12.

Should the Nashville Predators be buyers? Can the St. Louis Blues make the playoffs with a tough schedule to close the season that includes 17 games against the three teams ahead of them in the West? Will the Pittsburgh Penguins acquire a center before the deadline?

All those questions and more were answered in the podcast, which is free, and listeners can subscribe on all podcast platforms. It is also available on NHL.com/multimedia/podcasts and the NHL app.

Listen: New episode of NHL @The Rink

 

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