by Tony on 02/22/11 at 11:26 AM ET
UPDATED with video after the jump.
He made the biggest splash in the waning minutes of the 2008 NHL Trade Deadline by snagging Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Thrashers, and only giving up mediocre forwards Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong, former #1 pick but recently disappointing Angelo Esposito and the Pens’ #1 pick in the ‘08 Draft.
The next season he traded away offensive-minded but defensively shaky defenseman Ryan Whitney to Anaheim and getting not only Chris Kunitz in return but promising power forward Eric Tangradi as well. Whitney lasted only a season before he was traded again, this time to Edmonton.
So really, it should come to no one’s surprise that Penguins’ GM Ray Shero pulled off yet another larceny yesterday, getting promising power forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen in return for defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Penguins fans were understandably giddy when word of the trade came down yesterday around 4’ish. However, the speculation around this deal started around 10AM, when TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Stars and Penguins were discussing a deal believed to be centered around Neal and Goligoski in his Dreger Report.
Paul linked that article soon thereafter, followed by the plethora of speculation about what it would take for the deal to get done. Several outlets centered on what additional assets the Penguins would have to include in the deal. While I didn’t believe that the Shero would add a high draft pick, in all honesty I could have seen GMRS add one of the 137 grinders they have.
So to see the deal go down later in the afternoon, and the Penguins not only including no one else, and getting not only Neal, but Niskanen as well, it just left us as Penguins fans shaking our heads. Again. Ray did it again.
By the way, and not to boast, but I’m not shocked very much at all to see Goligoski go. In fact, if you skip to the 11:00 mark on the last interview I did with Sirius/XM’s NHL Home Ice, I pretty much predicted it:
I wish Gogo the best of luck in Dallas. I hope he solidifies his defensive play, that’s clearly his liability at this point. Are the Stars expecting him to round into a better all-around defenseman, or are they simply enamored (or desperate, take your pick) with his offensive skills? As I opined in the comments yesterday as the trade talks were reported, perhaps the Stars’ needs for an offensive defenseman could result in the Penguins’ return being more than expected. In the end, that may have very well have been the case.
As far as Neal goes, I admit I haven’t seen him live very much being a Western Conference player. So I won’t pretend that I know his skill set very well. But just from watching the multitude of Youtube videos, he appears to be just the rugged forward that Dan Bylsma loves. The attribute that I think could separate him from the others is his hands. He may be good on the forecheck and can drop the gloves when needed, but it sure looks like he can put the puck in the net.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Niskanen performs. I’ve read reports describing Niskanen as inconsistent, lacking confidence, etc. Frankly, I feel better knowing that if things with Niskanen don’t go smoothly, they’ve got a few defensemen that are close to making the jump to the NHL.
All we can do now is watch and wait to see what other tricks Shero has up his sleeve.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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