Big skates to fill

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Together in the backyard, the Staal brothers won the Stanley Cup on numerous occasions.

But even they would have been hard-pressed to come up with a scenario like yesterday's in Edmonton.

While Eric Staal, 21, prepared for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final with the Carolina Hurricanes, younger brother Jordan, 17, got an all-access behind-the-scenes tour as one of the NHL's top prospects in the upcoming Entry Draft.

"I should have gotten him to spy for me," said Eric following the team's morning skate.

"It's a lot of fun having him here. I knew he was coming to the finals, I did the same thing when I was a prospect.

"I wanted our team to be there when he was here, that has happened and now we want to be the team that wins the series. It's nice to have him here enjoying this with me."

STAR FOR THE PETERBOROUGH PETES

Jordan is the No. 2-ranked prospect for the June 24 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver. The six-foot-four, 215-pound centre had 28 goals and 40 assists in 68 games for the Peterborough Petes this season.

He took part in the Top Prospects game in Ottawa, the CHL Russia Challenge, and the OHL All-Star game in Belleville, Ont.

"He's got a lot of skills," said Eric. "He plays a similar game to myself. I think he's probably stronger at his age than I was. He plays more of a power game; he's probably a little more physical in taking pucks to the net."

Jordan is the third Staal up for the NHL draft. Eric went second overall in 2003, and Marc Staal, 19, was taken 12th overall by the New York Rangers last year.

There is a fourth Staal on the way as Jared Staal, 15, was selected in the first round of the OHL draft by Sudbury Wolves.

"I think there are probably more eyes watching (Jordan), there are probably more comparisons and stuff," Eric said. "But I think to their credit all of them have done a great job of creating their own path, doing their own thing. I try not to give them too much advice and let them enjoy it and go at it their own way."

BRACING FOR THE ATTENTION

Having seen two older brothers go through the draft process, Jordan is more than ready for the media attention associated with it.

He's already had to handle the comparisons to his older brother, who, heading into last night's game, was the NHL's leading playoff scorer.

"I have pretty big shoes to follow, but I think I've got a pretty good start by going to the Memorial Cup. Nobody has done that yet," Jordan said. "Those are pretty high standards, but I'll take it. If people want to think that way, I'll take it."

Growing up in Thunder Bay, the Staal brothers spent countless hours skating on a backyard rink build by their father Henry.

The battles were many and there were plenty of bruised shins and broken sticks during the winter.

"They were pretty competitive," said Jordan. "We're just like any other family - there were a lot of fights, a couple of sticks thrown here and there. We had a lot of fun out there; it probably helped our game a bit."

The Staals are already being compared to the Sutter brothers from Viking, although Eric is the only one to make it to the NHL.

As each successive brother makes it to the NHL, the pressure increases on the younger siblings to make the breakthrough.

"You just have to focus on your game, watching what you can do better and work on getting better," Jordan said. "I have to work hard this summer, hopefully get drafted nice and high and go from there."


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