In the 2010-11 NHL season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars made a trade. The Penguins were in desperate need of a scoring winger and the Stars needed some scoring talent on their backend. The trade was a no-brainer for both teams. The Penguins acquired James Neal and defensemen Matt Niskanen for young, offensive-minded blue-liner Alex Goligoski.
On Saturday, the Penguins and Stars faced-off against each other in an out-of-conference game. Both teams are in different situations right now in their seasons and I want to examine how this trade has affected both of the teams right now.
Let’s examine how the defensemen in this trade worked out for both teams.
In the last two seasons, both players have had impacts on their teams. Goligoski has earned favor with the Stars. Goligoski has not exactly been the goal-scoring machine that players like Kris Letang are for the Penguins. However, Goligoski has been putting points in assists for the Stars and his defensive game is coming around. He seems to really have found his groove in Dallas. “Go-Go,” as he is called, just signed a four-year, $18.4 million dollar extension in January of 2012.
Niskanen has had his ups and downs in Pittsburgh. He was looked at as a “throw in” in this deal. He was a salary dump for the Stars. However, Niskanen has been one of the most solid players on the blue line for the Penguins. “Nisky” has been one of the top defensemen for the Penguins this season. The Penguins experienced many injuries this season and it has been Niskanen who has helped the Penguins weather the storm. He has tied his high for goals scored in a season (seven) and is only five points away from tying his career-high in points (35).
Now, let’s examine the key player in this trade, Neal.
Neal was one of those players that would be hot and cold every season for the Stars. Neal would go on tears at the beginning of the season and the really cool off in the second half of the season. Neal was then traded to the Penguins and could not find his goal-scoring touch at all when he first started. Then, hel found the thing he really needed and that was a star center in Evgeni Malkin. Now, Neal is one of the deadliest scorers in the NHL. So far, he has scored 78 goals in 150 games for the Penguins, not counting his first short season with the Penguins.
Now, who really won this trade: the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Dallas Stars?
I would say that both teams got what they needed. The Stars are getting better play from Goligoski, way better than the play the Penguins got from him. The Penguins are getting much better play from Niskanen than the Stars did. However, the key player in this trade was James Neal. He went from being a very inconsistent player for the Stars to being one of the best scoring forwards in the NHL.
The Penguins probably won this trade overall, but the Stars did get what they needed in the end.