Last year, Jordan Staal burst onto the NHL scene as an 18-year-old rookie and tallied 29 goals, 42 points and a plus-16 rating en route to a Rookie of the Year nomination.
It would seem, however, that the sophomore slump has hit Staal in a big way, as he has but two goals and four assists through 29 games and has the worst plus/minus rating among Pens forwards at minus six.
In fact, Staal has the worst plus/minus of all 2006 first round draftees who have played in the NHL this year, the worst minutes-per-point ratio of that group, and the fewest goals among the lot. Take a look:
So what does it all mean? Not too much. I don't pretend to know what's holding Staal back this year (I can only stomach watching Pittsburgh four times a year, and even that's pushing it), but he's too good a player not to rebound, especially in the plus/minus department. And he does have something none of those other guys has yet - playoff experience.
But most folks recognized at the time that last year's goal total was a bit of an aberration, especially given his League-leading shooting percentage and the fact that he'd never even scored as many in juniors (then again, he was in the NHL and not in Peterborough at 18). Staal will likely develop into one of the game's better leaders, a two-way player who puts up solid but not gaudy numbers, which is exactly what the Pens need him to be - they've got a couple of other guys to carry the scoring load.