Eric Tangradi: The Pittsburgh Penguins' Most Unproven Prospect

Alison Myers@AlisonM_110Correspondent IMay 20, 2010

UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 11: Eric Tangradi #56 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates in his first NHL game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on April 11, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When then-Anaheim Ducks prospect Eric Tangradi came to the Penguins organization last February as part of a trade package, there was a lot of excitement surrounding him.

At the time, the excitement was understandable. Tangradi played three seasons for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL where he improved his point totals each season. He started off his first season in 2006-2007 with 20 points in 65 games; then tallied 60 points in 2007-2008 and 88 points in 2008-2009.

He joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season and put up 39 points in 65 games. He even earned a call-up to Pittsburgh in their final regular season game at the New York Islanders.

A lot of Penguins fans and writers feel that Tangradi should be in the NHL to start next season, even going as far to say he should be on a first line with Sidney Crosby.

Having watched Tangradi all season in the minors, I do not believe he is worthy of starting the 2010-2011 season in Pittsburgh.

Tangradi’s 39 points are impressive for a rookie, but at the same time, that is not enough to really blow anyone away. It would probably be more impressive if he had played consistently well the whole season. However, he didn't start producing on a consistent basis until January.

Why should he be in the NHL if he can't yet put up those kinds of points for a whole season?

Another obstacle for him is injuries. He missed part of his final season in the OHL with a hand injury. In his rookie season with the Baby Penguins, he missed games due to a shoulder injury sustained in October and a head injury sustained in March.

Pittsburgh had plenty of injury problems this year with several players being out long term. Why should they bring up another player who seems to have the same kind of problem that plagued the Big Penguins all season?

Tangradi will need to stay healthy for a whole season, in addition to putting up the numbers, before he can earn a spot.

He also needs to prove himself on future NHL callups. Plenty of players can put up high point totals in the AHL, but are unproductive when they get their chance in the NHL. So far, he has not been a significant factor for Pittsburgh in any games.

Besides, if he were so NHL ready, why were Mark Letestu and Chris Conner playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs while Tangradi sat in a press box? That tells me that while Pittsburgh's coaching and management think he has a great amount of potential, he is not ready to handle the pressures of being an NHL regular.

I feel many of the fans who want Tangradi in the NHL next season are buying into the hype. They are failing to see he has not proved himself enough to earn that spot. Rather, I think they expect he will come into training camp and Dan Bylsma will hand him a spot.

I think Eric Tangradi has a lot of talent. However, it is best for his development that he stays in the minors for another season, earn another call-up to prove he belongs, and avoid injuries.

Potential alone does not earn NHL call-ups, and he is not a good enough player to be an exception to the rule.

 

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