Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ray Shero Shows Off His Shiny New Toys Tonight

By Finesse

Tonight the Pens host the San Jose Sharks in what is always one of the most exciting games of the year.  No, not because it is against the Sharks, but because it is the annual debut game for Ray Shero's trade acquisitions.  We've been down this road for several years now, and few things are as fun, or meaningless, as coming to an immediate conclusion about a trade based solely on a player's first shift on the ice as a Penguin.

I may be in the minority, but I'm just as excited to see how Matt Niskanen fits on the blue-line as I am to see James Neal on the wing.  Even with Neal, the Pens are going to be relatively deficient offensively unless and until Crosby comes back.  Let's remember, James Neal is not a 50+ goal scorer - his career high is 27.  That's a little better than one goal every four games.  Yes, it is definitely an improvement over Ryan Craig, but let's not expect former-Ovechkin-level goal production from this guy.  And because scoring goals is going to still be a major challenge for the Pens, the team will have to continue to rely on defense and goaltending.

Huge pickup.
Niskanen is a 24-year old former first round pick.  He has a solid pedigree and that makes a difference.  We know the potential is there and he has proven himself before (+22 as a rookie in 07-08).  We're also optimistic because Shero has done this before, namely, getting a second player tossed into a deal who ultimately ends up becoming a key contributor for several years.  Don't remember who I'm talking about?

F-you, Geno.


  1. Nice point. Forgot he was in the Hossa deal. Also, I would have taken Kunitz for Whitney straight up, and we got a (supposedly) top-level prospect in Tangradi out of that.
    Some of Shero's biggest moves have been his quietest. Picking up Adams at the deadline off of waivers, Roberts for Noah Welch. What a genius.

  2. um 27 goals would be exactly a goal every 3 games, not 4. and he only played 77 games that year, so it would 'be a little better than a goal every 3 games'

  3. Thank you for that important clarification. Now we know that he will score approximately 7 goals in our remaining 21 games, not 6.

    And in the year he scored 27 goals, he played 78 games, not the 77 that you said. Egregious factual mistake on your part.

  4. haha just glad i could help

  5. Chris Kunitz scored a goal in his first game with the Pens. The first game is clearly an accurate indicator of the player's future contribution. Neal should score a hat trick tonight.

    Alexei Ponikarovsky scored a goal in his first game with the Pens (and didn't Hossa get hurt in hid first game?). The first game is clearly no indication of how the player's future with the club will shape up. Neal should be a minus 5 tonight with 6 PIM, including two in overtime.

  6. P. Co - love your prediction for Neal tonight. It implies we get to overtime! I'll take that point.