We all have our opinions on Ryan Whitney. But nobody cares anymore.
Let's focus on what we got for Whitney:
We usually keep jot down crap we come across during the day. We didn't on Thursday. But somewhere on the internet, there are rumblings that Dan Bylsma was sorta kinda behind the trade, if you want to think he has any clout in such a thing. Kunitz and Bylsma were teammates. Bylsma also coached him in the minors.
The best thing about bloggers? They can be easily contacted. They watch their team religiously. They know the ins and outs of their respective team. So instead of copying and pasting the scouting report from TSN or just making generalized statements regarding their style of play, we went to the source for info on these guys. And there's no one more well-versed with the working of the Ducks than Earl Sleek from BATTLE OF CALIFORNIA.
"Short version: you'll like Kunitz -- he's got everything but hands.He may not be worth his money, but he's not far off."
Here is what Rudy Kelly, the Kings blogger from said BOC,
had to say about his rival's former player:
"Chris Kunitz is a pretty perfect fit for the Penguins. He's not that great offensively and mostly leeches off great players, but he's tough and he won't let anyone take liberties with his linemates. I think he has a lot of moral courage, as inappropriate as that sounds. He's the kind of guy you want on your team, especially when you have a simpering little [expletive deleted] that gets punked by toothless Russians on your team. He'll be the 2nd best Avenger on the Penguins behind Pierre McGuire."
Always a man of inspiring words, some of which don't make the cut for the main page.
After the jump, some stats and YouTubes and Earl Sleek's long version.
And who will be helping us on trade-deadline day.
Kunitz isn't a 40-goal scorer, but he is no question a top-six forward in this league.
Nothing crazy, but it is pretty interesting to compare his stats with Ryan Malone:
Shockingly similar. Kunitz about 20 less goals in 36 games. Not bad.
You could argue that they should have just kept Malone, but whatever you're a douche.
Now on to what we think might be the best part of the deal. Forward Eric Tangradi.
6'4". Beastly. Someone on our EASHL team said the Pens wanted this dude in the draft, but the Ducks snatched him up. There's a link out there somewhere.
And he will job up for his teammates:
HOCKEY FUTURES had this to say:
Check out this kid.
Kevin Stevens blog.
Earl Sleek City:
Of course yesterday’s big Pittsburgh-Anaheim trade involved three players, but I’m really only qualified to talk about one of them – former Ducks winger Chris Kunitz, who more or less had been a part of Anaheim’s big-league club since the lockout. I have a surface knowledge of Ryan Whitney (already nicknamed “Cotton Gin”) and have never heard of Tangradi (though I’m notoriously awful at prospects), but I’ll try to end with a trade assessment, which is of course subject to change.
First off, a brief history of Kunitz’s seasons – in 05-06, Kunitz started up-and-down, and in fact was claimed off waivers by Atlanta before Brian Burke re-claimed him a week or so later. But as the season progressed and the Ducks became a western conference finalist, Kunitz helped form a speedy top line with Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald. What was amazing about that line wasn’t so much its talent, but rather its unbelievable affordability. Teemu had signed a one-year $1M deal with incentives, Andy Mac and Kunitz (by virtue of neither ever being drafted) combined for another $1.1M, and yet the trio combined for 93 goals and 216 points. Yeah, the bulk of that wasn’t Kunitz’s production, but he was a serviceable member of that line.
The cup season, he continued on that line for $1.4M (going off memory here, but everyone got salary bumps after Burke ripped ‘em off in year one), and of course we know how successful that year turned out to be. I think the telling thing about Kunitz wasn’t so much in his counting numbers, but I wrote a post when Kunitz signed his extension about how he was Anaheim’s scoring enabler – Teemu and Andy Mac, Getzlaf and Perry, Niedermayer and Beauchemin, Pronger and O’Donnell – all of these players had better numbers when Kunitz was on the ice. Kunitz did get hurt in the latter rounds of the postseason (amazingly though, 8 of Anaheim’s top 10 forwards played every game that year), but returned by the end of the Ottawa series.
The last two seasons since the cup, Kunitz has shuffled around a bit. He’s played a majority with Getzlaf and Perry, but also gets used to spread scoring to the second line. The team has been less stellar, of course, but not a lot of that falls on Kunitz’s shoulders. He’s put his effort and points in, and generally has provided exactly what he’s provided before – speed, a willingness to shoot and hit, and an offensively complementary game. He might not be blessed with the best set of hands (I’m not convinced Kunitz picks corners when he shoots), and he’s not a guy who will necessarily carry a line, but put him with scorers and he will give them some space.
The question becomes whether those ride-along talents are worth his current $3.725M cap hit, but if used properly, it’s a fine deal. With Crosby, it’s a bit tough to say – to tell the frank truth, I’m a western conference anomaly who hardly ever watches Pittsburgh play – but it’s tough for me to imagine Kunitz stinking. He’s steady – his ceiling might not be as high as some players but his floor isn’t very low either. He’s not out of place on a top power play unit, but doesn’t exactly demand the time either. For a center-strong team like Pittsburgh, though, it should work out – he’s adaptable enough to ride shotgun on any of their centers’ wing.
Fare thee well, Kunie. You never really got a strong nickname like some of the longtime Ducks, but I think it’s safe to say that Anaheim loved having you. Perhaps my favorite Kunitz memory – and this is a little bit warped on my part – was the game against Nashville when Kunitz, barely provoked, dropped his gloves and started punching the closest guy to him – Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky, bewildered at why he was suddenly in a fight, covered his face with his gloved hands to avoid the punches, but through some miracle in refereeing, both were given 5 minutes for fighting. I couldn’t stop laughing for the entire penalty.
The Penguins did well for themselves, I think (I’ve hear good things about Tangradi today, also), but I’m still pretty positive about this trade from the Ducks’ angle. This really represents GM Bob Murray’s first significant transaction with the Ducks – for the most part, all he’s done is play out the hand that Brian Burke left him with – and while proper commenting will happen in about a week when the dust settles, I think it’s a good gamble. Eli Whitney may have his flaws, but unlike Kunitz, I don’t think Whitney’s hit his ceiling; there is a real possibility for improvement. Kunitz’s energy will definitely be missed, but $3.7M is still a bit of salary to spend for someone to ride along on Getzlaf and Perry’s coattails. And the salary on Cotton Gin isn’t that bad – I’d expect he’d get more if he were negotiating a new long-term deal today.
So at first blush Bob Murray, I’ll give a thumbs up – I’ll have to watch a few games that don’t end in a 6-0 loss before I really know what we’ve got in Whitney, though. And as to whether this triggers a subsequent Niedermayer or Pronger deal, I can only say this – the only person who knows what the Ducks need to do this deadline is the person who knows what Scott Niedermayer has planned for next year. Unless Scotty is willing to sign a Teemu-style bargain contract (hey, remember that 34-game vacation you got last year?), this much is now predictable: the trio of Niedermayer, Pronger, and Whitney won’t be playing together in Anaheim next fall.
CALL TO ARMS
Maybe it's been mentioned in C-Blog. Maybe not.
But does anyone have the background for Dan Bylsma's "Disco Dan" nickname?
Powder Blue beanie is on the line.
ESPN article and Barnaby's take on the Kunitz acquisition. BOOM.
FACEOFF-FACTOR interviews Nathan Moon. BAM.
Hockey T Shirt. BOOM.
PENGUINS EXPERIENCE will be covering trade-deadline day here for us.
You come here to see how we can tie Jurassic Park into a game recap.
You go to the heaviest hitters, EXPERIENCE and CONFLUENCE, for actual analysis.
If we were any more comfortable handing the reins to him, we'd be naked while doing it.
Seriously, we're not blowing smoke up anyone's asses when we say that we are grateful for everyone who stepped forward and volunteered. From the two-sentence queries to the two-paragraph impromptu resumes, we read EVERY SINGLE ONE.
This is how we gain enemies. Someone feels they could do it, they get snubbed, and then they start hating us. Don't do that. We will DEFINITELY be looking for a full-time blogger this off-season to add to the blog. That process will be much more involved than this tiny call-out for help. There will be an unreal vetting process. This thing is our baby.
Charlie is giving up Brad Richards for lent