The Penguins have traded defenseman Ryan Whitney (above) to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Chris Kunitz and forward prospect Eric Tangradi. In 62 games this season, Kunitz,29, has 35 points (16 goals, 17 assists). He was a member of Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup-winning team. Tangradi, a second-round pick in 2007, is currently in will the Belleville Bulls of the OHL.
Kunitz is signed through the 2011-12 season.
Whitney, 26, has 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists) in 28 games this season.
To make room for Kunitz, Chris Minard was put on waivers.
EN Says: We like the move for the Penguins. The Penguins acquire a scoring winger who is signed for a few seasons and is capable of playing on the top two lines and a prospect projected as a power forward. Additionally, the Penguin's aren't mortgaging the future here. There's only a three year difference between the two NHL players in the deal.
Kunitz is a winger who can play both ways and can play on a team's top two-lines. He hit the 20-goal mark each of the last two seasons playing primarily on Anaheim's top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He's not exactly a power forward but at 6-foot-0, 195 points, he is not afraid to mix it up with opposing defenseman and will get his nose bloodied. Additionally, Kunitz is not afraid to drop the gloves:
He will defend a teammate as well:
At 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, Tangradi is very much a power forward and is projected as one at the NHL level. His addition increases the Penguins' organizational depth, something which has been lacking. He is currently second in the OHL in scoring with 87 points (38 goals, 49 assists). Tangradi might be most infamous for an ugly incident in this past season's World Junior Championships. A member of the United States' team, he clipped Canada's Chris DiDomenico from the bench with his stick after Canada scored a goal:
We're not quite sure how Anaheim benefits from the deal. They add a skilled but struggling defenseman at a position they are fairly stacked in with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer and they unload a player who has been very valuable for them the past two seasons. And they dump a prospect. There has been rampant speculation that the Ducks would be dealing Pronger at the trade deadline. This move certain suggests that move could be in the works.
Whitney's a very talent player, but he's maddeningly inconsistent. He's coming off a major foot surgery this offseason and his game has taken a big step back. If he can ever get things in order, he will be a legit No. 2 defenseman. If that ever happens, the Penguins will only have to face him once or twice a season.
Getting back to the Penguins, with Whitney gone, that only amps up the importance of Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski to the club for the long term. With Sergei Gonchar scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after next season, Letang and Goligoski should be vital pieces of the franchise's blue line for four or five seasons. Both players are restricted free agents after this season. They should be priorities for Ray Shero.
Note: As mentioned by Yotum in the comments, Tangradi, a native of Philadelphia, grew up a Flyers fan.
Update: Kunitz was shocked by the move.
Update: Whitney will not play for the Ducks tonight in Boston.
(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)