Monday, February 21, 2011

Neal for Goligoski

2011 Season2011Remaining
To Pittsburgh
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
James NealForward2359211839$2.9 million1Same
Matt NiskanenDefense2445066$1.5 million1Same
To Dallas
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Alex GoligoskiDefense256092231$1.8 million1Same

Not even a holiday Monday can stop the NHL from making a trade, now that we are officially one week away from the trade deadline. The Stars and Penguins made an interesting deal, which saw Dallas part with one of their up-and-coming snipers to acquire one of Pittsburgh's top defensemen.

The Penguins, deeply in need of some quality offense with a lot of their scoring talent on the shelf, parted ways with Alex Goligoski in order to pick up James Neal on Monday, which has not surprisingly left a few people scratching their heads, trying to reason with this deal as a whole.  A lot of people are suggesting that Neal's potential going forward far exceeds that of Goligoski and the Stars also threw in Matt Niskanen to help seal the deal.

The Penguins are getting a pretty good winger in Neal, who already has eclipsed the 20-goal plateau with the Stars this year, but was seemingly falling down the depth charts in Dallas, according to a report I had seen this afternoon, making this deal a little easier to do, as the Stars get a chance to upgrade their defense with Goligoski.  The Penguins pride themselves on their offense and with a lack of chemistry between Sidney Crosby and the existing wingers on the team, the acquisition of Neal will give them a new winger to try out in the position of Crosby's main winger.  Not a bad position to be in.

The numbers that Goligoski has put up are quite decent at the moment, but there was quite a bit of help on that Pittsburgh team, which may skew their value.  Goligoski also is a year older than Niskanen, the other piece of this deal, and has played some pretty important minutes for the Penguins this season, so he should be able to bring a little bit of defensive depth to the table, especially in the top two pairings on the team.

Salary CapIf there was a way to spin the deal in terms of a salary cap deal, the Stars managed to find a cheap top-four defenseman on another team that has a small cap hit for the remainder of this season and another year on this deal, while dumping cap hits on the Penguins.  The Stars are still dealing with ownership issues and since the team is falling down the Western Conference standings awfully quickly, the time to work out a deal to start saving some money for a better bottom line and a possible rebuild looks somewhat suitable.

For the Penguins, taking on a guys like Niskanen to get a cheap and talented winger like Neal looks like a pretty good move on their part, who already has come away with likely the most talent in this deal in Neal.  With another year on his deal before free agency, Neal will provide some extra flexibility this coming Summer,  especially with a great cap hit next year.

ImplicationsIn the draft, this trade has some implications with the top of the table, as both Allan S. and Benson G. each have players moving back and forth in this deal.  Allan sees one of his young snipers moving to a pretty good team in Pittsburgh, but the Penguins are still without Crosby and Malkin, so Neal will need some help to score  some extra goals, before he makes a major impact.  Benson will likely see some of his defense numbers fall a bit, as the Stars have not been as offensive in recent memory.

There hasn't been a lot of arguments online about how badly the Stars have done on this deal, as many people, including myself, feel that Goligoski may have been overrated, well before this deal even happened.  The Penguins have done very well with him in their stead, but looking at all the talent that surrounded the young defenseman, there is a lot of spillage from his teammates that may have worked its way into his scoring numbers.  Of course, this will be a perfect opportunity to prove everyone wrong, but for the price of Neal and Niskanen going the other way, he will really have to do some magic with this new team in Dallas.

Until Goligoski saves the Stars season, gets them into the playoffs and proves that he could be a top pairing defenseman on a team that has been sliding a bit, this one will go down as an easy win for the Penguins.

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