Eric Craig Staal (born October 29, 1984) is a Canadian ice hockey player and the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League. He is the older brother of Marc Staal, who is playing for the New York Rangers, Jordan Staal, who is playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Jared Staal, who is playing for the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.
Staal grew up playing minor hockey in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He played AAA for the Thunder Bay Kings organization and led his Bantam team to an All-Ontario Championship in 1999-2000. After that season, Staal was selected in the 1st round (13th overall) in the 2000 OHL Priority Selection by the Peterborough Petes.
Staal was selected second overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, behind number 1 pick Marc-André Fleury. He had played for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL the year before, scoring 98 points in 66 games.