Penguins Acquire James Neal, Matt Niskanen from Dallas Stars
The long-awaited trade deadline bonanza has officially begun in the Steel City, as the Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired young winger James Neal and blueliner Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski.
The addition of the 23-year old Neal, a three-time 20-goal man who has scored 21 times thus far in 2010-11, is the latest attempt by the franchise to land a top-flight winger, one who will undoubtedly play alongside Sidney Crosby upon his eventual return from injury. Neal's playing style, an underrated combination of bruising physicality fused with a deft scoring touch and nose for the net, should allow him to mesh flawlessly with Head Coach Dan Bylsma's effort-emphasized team system.
As for Niskanen, the U of Minnesota-Duluth alum has noticeably tailed off since his sophomore coming-out party in the 2008-09 season, where he recorded 29 assists and 35 points, along with 52 penalty minutes. After recording just 15 points last season, this current campaign has been a disaster for the Virginia, Minnesota native, as he has yet to score a single goal, managing to post just a measly 6 assists in 45 total games this year. But as trades often do for struggling youngsters, this move certainly has the potential to fire up the enigmatic defender, who garnered league-wide notoriety in late 2010 after engaging Penguins' Captain Sidney Crosby in a spirited fight while he was still a member of the Stars.
It remains to be seen whether or not this trade is yet another shrewd move by General Manager Ray Shero, as any deal involving young players changing hands (such as this one) is a risky proposition at best. But if you ask this observer, from the perspective of the black and gold, I'm a big fan of the swap.