The New York Rangers have acquired veteran Canadian center Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes, the team announced Sunday.

Rangers Trade Picks, Get Eric Staal

In return, the Hurricanes get a second-round pick in 2016 and 2017, as well as Finnish prospect Aleksi Saarela, who was the Rangers’ third-round pick in last year’s draft.

Staal was forced to waive his no-move clause in order to accept the deal. The Carolina captain has spent his entire 12-year NHL career with the Hurricanes and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, once the last year of his seven-year, $55.75 million contract expires.

“As much as I think they’re doing the right thing with the young players — there’s some great pieces there for the future — I think deep, deep in my gut this was an opportunity I needed to take,” Staal said Monday, just hours before his debut with the Rangers versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton stated the Hurricanes retained part of Staal’s $8.25 million cap hit, and that the Rangers have enough financial flexibility to add another “small-salary player if we wanted to.”

The deal was finalized about an hour before the Hurricanes hosted the St. Louis Blues and just one day before the NHL trading deadline.

The Rangers are currently 16 points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division standings. The Hurricanes have lost five of their last seven games, including Sunday’s 5-2 home loss to the Blues.

The trade leaves goalie Cam Ward as the only Hurricane remaining from any of the club’s playoff teams.

“Eric has been the face of this franchise for a long time, and we thank him for his dedication, leadership and many contributions,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. “We felt this was an important opportunity for us to continue our work in building an organization that can consistently compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs.”

Staal, 31, will be united with his younger brother Marc Staal, a defenseman for the Rangers, and will leave his other younger brother, Jordan Staal, who will take his place as captain for the Hurricanes.

Eric Staal counts 30-plus scored goals five times in his career. The four-time All-Star also has 10 goals and 23 assists in 63 games this season.

Staal is the Hurricanes’ career leader in nearly every category, including 909 games played, 332 goals and 775 points.

Saarela currently plays for Assat Pori of the Finnish elite league. The 19-year-old leads the team with 18 goals.

CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 27: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes controls the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 27, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Hurricanes defeated the Blackhawks 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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