Your NHL trading deadline home will be right here. I will have up to date commentary on each deal on deadline day (March 4), as they happen.
The Penguins pulled the trigger on a deal today that sent defensemen Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Chris Kunitz and 20 year old prospect Eric Tangradi. Is this the first of a series of moves that can get the Pens back into cup contention? One can only hope.
My first take on the deal was- What in the hell is Shero thinking? Kunitz is a solid winger, but nothing special. To give up a big chip like Whitney, one that teams were interested in, I would expect a better return. After looking at it for a while though, it isn't entirely that bad of a deal, if it triggers another move.
Entering the season, the Pens had a surplus of young defensemen and naturally they could deal one. With the emergence of Kris Letang and Alex Gologoski (who better return to the big club), it made sense to move Whitney, but what did they get?
Sherro will tell you they got a top winger in Kunitz. He will play with Crosby and needs to produce early and often as a Penguin. He is a VERY quick player with above average hands. He immediately becomes the teams best current winger not named Sykora, but that doesn't say much at all with this current group. The thing i do like is that he will score alot of goals in front of the net (Ryan Malone anyone). Kunitz brings toughness as well. He can go and get the puck, something our wingers can't do right now and he is physical (144 hits). He is also signed for 3 more years so there is no threat of him leaving. His salary breakdown is 3.6mil in 2009, 3.8 in 2010 and 4mil in 2011.
The numbers don't look like a top 6 guy- 16 goals 19 assists, but he played in a more methodical style with Anahiem. His numbers should get better with the Pens, especially in an up tempo style. They better, to warrant dealing Whitney. He also could be a Dan Bylsma kind of player. Bylsma played with and coached Kunitz in Anaheim.
The key to the deal could be Tangradi, a former second round pick of the Ducks. He is a scorer. His 87 points in the OHL are only 2 behind John Taveres, who should be the number one overall pick in this years draft. he should be ready to turn pro next season and join the Penguins organization.
This deal is actually better for the Ducks. They acquire a solid young blue-liner and have been rumored to be shopping Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermeyer. They can now deal one or both for offense and get themselves back into the playoff race.
The Pens are still being linked to Milan Hejduk and Martin St Louis, which means Jordan Stall would have to be included to acquire one of them (thank god). While I can't say I like the Whitney move just yet, it would look alot better if they landed a true first line winger.
If this is Ray Shero's only move as the deadline approaches, it just doesn't make that much sense, because on paper they aren't getting out of the first round anyway. However, IF Shero can pull off a major deal by March 4, then Kunitz could turn out to be a valuable asset to the team.