Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero has struck again, and this time he didn't wait until the trade deadline. Despite the fact that the Penguins are without Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the season and without Sidney Crosby out indefinitely with a concussion, Shero was bound to try to improve his team short-term should Crosby return for a playoff run.
Despite all the injuries and distractions that the Penguins are facing they remain fourth in the Eastern Conference, and are just a few wins behind the Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic Divison.
On Monday, Shero and pulled a the trigger in a very good trade with the Dallas Stars. The Penguins traded 25-year-old defenseman Alex Goligosk to Dallas for LW James Neal, 23, and D Matt Niskanen, 24.
This trade works out for both teams. The Penguins are deep at the defensemen position, as they have Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Paul Matrin and Zbynek Michalek. Not only that but they have a few young up and coming guys like Simon Depres in their system. Goligoski, who was a member of the 2008-09 Stanley Cup champion Penguins team, has nine goals and 22 assists in 60 games with the Pens this season.
Gologoski is signed through the end of the '11-'12 season, and is slated to earn $1.833 million. I don't have a problem getting rid of Gologoski because of the depth the Penguins have. Gologoski is a very good offensive defenseman and should be a good power-play quarterback for the Stars for years to come.
In return the Pens got winger James Neal, who was the 33rd overall pick in the 2005 entry draft and has 21 goals this season. Neal scored 24 times in his rookie season and 27 in his sophomore season and will play top-six minutes for the Penguins.
With all of the injuries at the forward position the Penguins obviously needed more depth and quality talent up-front. Now they have a guy that could be a 30-goals scorer at winger, and that's makes Neal a bit time accusation.
Although early reports were that the trade was going to be Neal for Gologoski heads up, the Penguins managed to get defenseman Matt Niskanen, the same Niskanen that fought Sidney Crosby earlier this year.
Niskanen, a former 1st-round pick, is a decent defensmen that should be able to get some quality minutes playing on the Pens third defensive pair. Niskanen has some offensive ability, notching 35 points a few seasons ago.
Again this trade works out well for both teams but I think Shero just made a great trade. Neal now gives the Pens some much needed scoring for the rest of this season and next season. If Crosby is able to come back this year, the Pens will have a realistic chance for competing for the Stanley Cup.
Another question one must ask is "Is Shero done?" I don't think so. The Penguins are still rumored in a lot of trade talks, including reportedly being interested in former Penguin, now Ottawa Senator, Alexei Kovalev.
Again the Penguins chances in the playoffs depend on whether or not Crosby returns. However, this trade was a win for both Shero and the Penguins. In Shero we trust.