Penguins Trade Whitney to Ducks for Kunitz

Yesterday (Februaray 26th, 2009) the Pittsburgh Penguins traded 26 year old defender Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for 29 year old wing Chris Kunitz and 20 year old forward prospect Eric Tangradi.

 The Penguins have been looking for a star wing to put on a line with Sidney Crosby for quite some time now, and now that they have Kunitz… they’ll find themselves still looking for a star wing to put on a line with Sidney Crosby.

The bottom line is that this trade makes little sense from the point of view of the Penguins.  They trade arguably one of the best young defenders in the game with a very reasonable cap hit of $4 million for 4 more years, for an overpriced, underachieving winger who makes approximately the same amount of money as Whitney over the course of the next 3 years.

Furthermore, consider that Penguins star defender, Sergei Gonchar only has one more year left on his current contract…  Which defenders will the Penguins lean on for offensive production if Gonchar decides to leave in a year now that they’ve traded Whitney?  Kristopher LetangAlex Goligoski?  While very promising, both are still young and cannot be relied upon consistantly without some veteran guidance. 

The penguins are on a slippery slope following this trade.  They are (for all intents and purposes) one defender away from becoming the same debacle that is the Ottawa Senators this season.  No team can be successful without quality puck moving defensemen on their team… regardless of how good their forwards may be.

The one bit of good news is that they managed to snag a pretty decent forward prospect from the Ducks in Tangradi.  Tangradi is currently second in OHL scoring and could be a very good winger in the NHL right about the time Kunitz’s current contract is expiring in 3 years.  The Pittsburgh farm system is pretty bare, so the addition of Tangradi definitely helps them in the longer term.  Tangradi is the “silver lining” of this trade for the Penguins.  Hopefully he progresses into the NHL as successfully as his talent and size suggest he will.

—–

As for Anaheim… What can I say?  This is just a brilliant move by new GM Bob Murray.  He really hit his this one out of the park…  Anaheim management knew better than anyone what Chris Kunitz is and what Chris Kunitz isn’t.  Kunitz isn’t a franchise piece or a “game breaker.”  He is a serviceable wing of the same mold as 50-100 other guys in the league.  Truth be told, the Ducks probably overpaid a little bit when they resigned him, but following this trade… that is a mistake they no longer have to live with.

Their defensive core is looking like it could be very depleted as soon as this summer, with Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin both slated to become unrestricted free agents.  Niedermayer may just retire, but should Anaheim lose one or both of these guys, the addition of Whitney grants them plenty of defensive depth for years to come.

In addition to proactively addressing a possible off-season dilemma on the back end, Anaheim has also opened up more room in the depth chart for breakout young star, Bobby Ryan to slip into.  Ryan will now see increased responsibilities and ice time that he has proven to be ready for.

All around great move by the Anaheim Ducks in my opinion.  The Pittsburgh Penguins on the other hand… probably should have been patient and fielded a few more offers.

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3 Responses to “Penguins Trade Whitney to Ducks for Kunitz”

  1. […] A few days prior to the trade deadline, the Penguins brought in W Chris Kunitz and traded away D Ryan Whitney.  At the trade deadline, they pick up a gritty veteran forward in Guerin for fairly cheap.  […]

  2. […] article was written on February 24th, Pittsburgh has made a head coaching change, traded Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for Chris Kunitz, and acquired Billy Guerin at the trade deadline from the NY Islanders.  These combined changes […]

  3. Penguin Lover Says:

    I’m not sure how much I like this trade

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