Pittsburgh Penguins Make Moves as Trade Deadline Looms: Analysis and Predictions

Steve StrausbaughContributor IFebruary 22, 2011

Despres recently played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY.
Despres recently played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY.Rick Stewart/Getty Images

As we all know now, Ray Shero made a move yesterday sending Alex "Goose" Goligoski out of town for James Neal and Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars. This trade seems to work well for both teams, although the Penguins seem to have gained the most out of it.

It's no secret that Ray Shero has been trying very hard to find a true scoring winger to complement Sidney Crosby on the top line. 

First there was the Marian Hossa debacle, where Hossa said he was staying and then suddenly left in free agency to the Detroit Red Wings.

Then he took a chance last year on Alexei Ponikarovsky, which, unfortunately for the Penguins, didn't work out well at all. Ponikarovsky had tremendous upsidehe was young, had a good scoring touch, was a big presence, etc. Sound familiar yet?

Don't get me wrong, he was not as highly touted as the incoming James Neal is, but there is a bit of a resemblance to the two players.

The good news for the Penguins is by letting Goligoski go, they must realize the development of Simon Despres as well. Many believed Despres would make the Pens team this year out of training camp. Had Paul Martin and Zybenek Michalek not been added in the offseason, Despres probably would've had a real good chance at making the team.

This year in the QMJHL, Despres has posted 11 goals and 34 points in 36 games. He's 6'4", weighs in at 204 lbs and is a left-handed shot. Give him one year in the NHL and he should be able to fill Goligoski's role nicely.

Don't forget about Ben Lovejoy, as well. He seems a lot like Goligoski from a couple years back.

Niskanen is a player with a lot of potential. His first two seasons in the NHL were his best, but for some reason, things changed and the last couple seasons have not been nearly as good for him. He's been on the record already saying he thinks he "needed a fresh start" and is very happy to be getting that in Pittsburgh.

Never hurts to add another right-handed shot to the blue line, either. He was a first-round draft pick in 2005 for the Dallas Stars.

Neal is signed through the 2011-2012 season, after which he will become a restricted free agent. One can only hope he believes in himself as much as the fans in Pittsburgh are believing in him. After playing next season on a line with Crosby, maybe he'll blossom and want to stick around for a while at a "discount," like a lot of Penguins players have been known to do in the recent years.

The trade has tremendous potential for the Penguins to even be one that's talked about for a very long time. Whether or not that comes to fruition, we will have to wait and see. Best of luck to Goligoski out in Dallas. He'll be able to log the minutes he deserves, finally.

One last thing, rumor has it Ottawa would love to unload Alexei Kovalev. The Penguins have been reported to be very interested in bringing him back to town. It wouldn't take a huge sell to get him, but with Neal coming here, Eric Tangradi could now be a bargaining chip. 

Tangradi is still suffering the effects of a concussion from the informational session on how to conduct a nasty cheap shot in the Nassau Colosseum.

Ray Shero did not deny when asked yesterday if Tangradi was involved in the Dallas trade talks. Plus, he loves making moves on deadline day, he's got to have something to do!