Our first big trade as the deadline creeps closer: Ryan Whitney, the Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman who has drawn the fans' ire for underperforming after signing a 6-year, $24 million contract extension, has been shipped out to the Anaheim Ducks for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi, per TSN.
Kunitz, a $3.75 million cap hit until he's a UFA in 2012, has 16 goals and 35 points this season after scoring 21 and 50 last year. He's been targeted as a guy whose salary is too high for the Ducks with the cap coming down in the future. He's a left wing that, one assumes, will be slotted with Sidney Crosby.
Interesting deal, and not a bad one for either side. The Penguins get a guy in his prime who has a ring, and in Tangradi a Pennsylvania boy with some upside as a power forward. The Ducks get a good, puck-moving defenseman who may have needed a change of scenery; more importantly, he's under contract, unlike every D-man not named Chris Pronger on that blue line this summer.
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Speaking of Pronger, the obvious question: Does getting Whitney tell us anything about his future with the Ducks? (UPDATE: Bob McKenzie still sees a Pronger deal in the summer.)
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