Monday, February 21, 2011

Pens Trade Goligoski to Dallas For James Neal and Matt Niskanen

By Finesse

Ray Shero doesn't waste time.  He heard the opening of Mark Madden's show today at 3pm where Madden and Josh Yohe from the Trib were talking about a rumor of Goligoski to Dallas for James Neal.  Both Madden and Yohe thought that was a good trade for the Pens, but probably wouldn't go through because Dallas would want more.  Well, Shero said screw Mark Madden, and then convinced Dallas to throw Niskanen in as well.

Welcome to GTOG Nation.
Let's focus first on Neal, who is a very promising player.  Neal was second round pick in 2005 and in his 3 years in the league he has 24, 27, 21 (so far) goals.  He is signed through next season at $2.875 mil/year and then is a RFA.  Niskanen is a former first round pick from 2005 and appears to be a decent player, although he hasn't quite lived up to his potential.  He is signed through next season at a very cap friendly $1.75 mil/year.

This appears at first glance to be a very solid move for the Pens, because it does two things: 1) it makes the Pens better this season; and 2) doesn't take anything off the table for the future.  The strength of this Pens team is their 6 defensemen, and with the injuries up front, there is obviously a dearth of goal scoring ability.  The Pens dealt from an area of strength to upgrade a weakness, while offsetting the damage done to the defense by getting Niskanen thrown in.  Neal's upside is similar to Gogo's, but comes at a position where the Pens need more help.

What you will not hear us do is speculate as to what this means about Crosby's health.  Some will say that getting a winger means that the Pens believe Sid is going to come back this season.  But this trade makes the Pens more competitive this season, whether Sid is back or not.  And, all Gods forbid, if Sid doesn't come back until next year, then having Neal is a serious offensive upgrade now and next season.  Be happy.

Also, don't be worried about Neal and/or Niskanen not fitting under the cap next season.  Shero and Bylsma are getting extended looks at the Pens minor leaguers right now which translates in the GM world as "cheap labor."  Saving a few hundred thousand dollars on a few positions on the 3rd and 4th lines next season is how Shero will make room for Neal.  Sorry, Max.  I have a picture of you scoring on Osgood in my office.  It's not personal.

As for Gogo, we are sorry to see him go.  It's been fun.

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