The Pittsburgh Penguins have decided that Jordan Staal will remain with the team this season rather than ship him back to his Canadian junior hockey team.
The 18-year-old rookie center from Canada will play on a team loaded with young talent, including forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Prior to the season, Pittsburgh was expected to send Staal back to his junior team in the province of Ontario after nine games in the National Hockey League, thereby avoiding having to pay for the first year of Staal's three-year entry-level contract.
But Staal has teamed with Canadian phenomenon Crosby, Russian dynamo Malkin and Canadian backstopper Fleury to lead the Penguins to a surprising 6-3-0 start this season.
The second overall selection in the draft, Staal has appeared in all nine games, collecting four goals and an assist.
"Jordan has earned his spot on our roster and deserves to play at the National Hockey League level," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said.
"We all knew about his skill level when we drafted him. But his work ethic, maturity and consistent effort have enabled him to make what is normally a difficult transition for a teenager," Shero added.