Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reflections on Stars/Pens Trade

I was half tempted to just post this picture to describe my emotions at 4:00 pm today... but let's break it down.

Who We Got

James Neal
I honestly don't even know where to begin when talking about this guy. He's 6'3, tough enough to stand up for himself but not to the point where he takes many penalties. He's got a wicked shot and is on pace for 30 goals after playing most of the season with the likes of Steve Ott and Jamie Langenbrunner (imagine how he'll do with Sid or Geno).

The Pens have finally got that scoring winger everyone has been talking about for years, and Neal can probably fit in equally well with Malkin or Crosby. He will be an immediate boost to the struggling powerplay, and probably a mainstay on the top unit even as the top guys start to get healthy

Which leads me to probably the best part....he's only 23 years old. He is already easily a top 6 guy on any team right now, and has the potential to develop into something even more special.

Concerns? There are a few Stars fans that thought he was close to hitting his "ceiling" for development, but even if that were true (and I don't think it is) he is still a top 6 30 goal forward that we got at a bargain.

Matt Niskanen
Rather than Shero have to sweeten the deal, it was Dallas who threw in the additional player. That player is defenseman Matt Niskanen. Niskanen was a nightmare fit in Dallas (and has been on a year-long slump), and the word is that they were shopping him quite hard.

He's generally a "stay at home" defenseman who is a bit more stable that Goligoski on the defensive side but really has no upside on the offensive side of things.

Stars fans generally tended to scapegoat him very similarly to how "Goalagainstki" was referred as in Pittsburgh, but Bob McKenzie put it best in a tweet saying that "Niskanen's confidence shot in Dallas. Needed a change of scenery." Personally, I'm more than happy to have Niskanen. He was a 1st round pick in '05 and really looked quite impressive in his first few seasons in Dallas.

If he reaches his full potential, he may sort of a hybrid between Orpik and Michalek but realistically I see him as a guy who can add some depth and stability to the back-end of the defense and take on a role similar to Mark Eaton.

Bottom line: This was grand larceny today. Obviously Dallas is trying to clear up some cap space to re-sign Richards and they really were hell-bent on picking up Goligoski. Goligoski is actually quite a good fit for Dallas, but they gave up an awful lot to get him. My initial thoughts were that the Pens would have to package in a guy like Tangradi or at least a high pick to get this thing done, but they have an agenda down in Big D and are willing to take on some collateral damage to keep that agenda moving.

Pleasure doin' business with ya..

All hail King Shero.

One final note:

Neal's cap hit is 2.8 and Niskanen's is 1.5 per year. Take Goligoski's 1.8 out of the equation and that gives Shero quite a bit of room to play with for THIS YEAR.

Neal and Niskanen are both long-term guys, but the cap space freed up with Geno on the IR still gives the Pens room to take on a "rental" player or 2 for a potential playoff run this season.

I do think that Kovalev will be in a Pens uni before next week, and he will probably come cheap. (5th or 6th round pick 2011).

Shero may try to shop Talbot or Kennedy but I highly doubt that there is much of market for them. It'd be nice to at least get something for them, but given the current state of affairs the Pens are in need of bodies and can't afford to lose 2 forwards unless guys start getting healthy soon.

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