This is the closest thing you'll get to statistical analysis from me. If you look too much into it, I hate you and want you to leave.
The Pensblog had a little nugget in their Stars recap that I wanted to pass along for all the Jordan Staal haters out there. He scored his 17th goal of the season despite near constant criticism. They said:
"Yeah, we're officially done riding Jordan Staal. It's not because it's amidst a solid streak of play for him. It hit us when FSN showed "17th goal of the season" after the goal. 17 goals and solid defensive play? Bank. If he's overpaid, don't blame him."
So I looked at every other current 3rd line center in the game. This was supposed to be up yesterday, so they don't include anything from that stupid Islanders game last night. I'm not going back and updating all this.
Anyway, here's a list of all the current 3rd line centers in the game, with their goal, assist and +/- rating noted. Staal's numbers are at the end, compared to the average of the 29 other guys.
Ducks - Brendan Morrison 10 G 11 A 0
Thrashers - Erik Christensen 5 G 12 A -9
Bruins - Patrice Bergeron 6 G 20 A +1
Sabres - Paul Gaustad 7 G 13 A -1
Flames - Dustin Boyd 10 G 7 A -8
Canes - Rod Brind'Amour 8 G 23 A -30
Blackhawks - Dave Bolland 15 G 23 A +21
Avs - T.J. Hensick 4 G 14 A +1
Blue Jackets - Michael Peca 4 G 13 A -5
Devils - John Madden 6 G 16 A -3
Islanders - Andy Hilbert 10 12 A +1
Rangers - Lauri Korpikowski 6 G 7 A -6
Flyers - Darroll Powe 4 G 3 A +1
Red Wings - Darren Helm 0 G 1 A -7
Predators - Vernon Fiddler 8 G 5 A -8
Blues - Brad Boyes 25 G 26 A -17
Canadiens - Maxin Lapierre 11 G 9 A +1
Senators - Antoine Vermette 9 G 19 A -11
Leafs - Mikhail Grabovski 13 G 18 A -6
Oilers - Andrew Cogliano 14 G 17 A -5
Wild - James Sheppard 4 G 10 A -20
Canucks - Kyle Wellwood 14 G 7 A +4
Panthers - Gregory Campbell 12 G 15 A +3
Lightning - Steven Stamkos 13 G 16 A -7
Caps - Dave Steckel 7 G 9 A +3
Kings - Michal Handzus 11 G 17 A -8
Coyotes - Martin Hanzal 9 G 17 A -5
Sharks - Tomas Plihal 5 G 8 A +2
Stars - Brian Sutherby 7 G 5 A +3
Jordan Staal 17 G 18 A -7
AV G: 8.86
AV A: 12.86
AV +/-: -3.97
Aside from Staal, the only 3rd liners I'd even think of wanting would be Brad Boyes for his point production or Dave Bolland for the killer +/- rating. What we have is a young kid (!) that has better offensive skill than the average 3rd line center should, and his +/- isn't too far into the minus to care that much (Rod Brind'Amour, anyone?).
Last I checked, goals won games and assists helped.
Yes, there are a variety of factors that I skipped over on purpose, because I'm only focusing on what Staal has produced comparable to the average for his position. Tell me a 3rd line center is almost 10 goals and 5 assists above the league average for his position, and I'll be more than happy to have him on the team.
So before you crap on Staalsy next time, remember that you could be rooting for a guy named Plihal or something instead.