Pittsburgh Penguins (11-3-0) @ Anaheim Ducks (4-6-2)
When the Anaheim Ducks acquired Ryan Whitney (PIT 2002, 1st round pick) last February, the Ducks believed they got the best of the deal, because they were receving the best player. To this day, they feel the same way.
The deal which sent forward Chris Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi to Pittsburgh in ex-change for Whitney, is regarded as a win-win for both teams in league circles but it’s still up for debate whether the Penguins got enough in return for Whitney.
Whitney who has benefited from the coaching of Randy Carlye, a former Norris Trophy winner, has been paired with James Wisniewski (suspended 2 games) which has been the Ducks No. 1 pairing this season.
Whitney (7 pts) leads the Ducks in ice-time (26:44) and is second on the team with a plus/minus rating of +3. By comparison, future hall of famer Scott Niedermayer has a plus/minus rating of -6. In Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Phoenix, Whitney led the Ducks with 33:54 of ice time.
Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for Chris Kunitz who returns to Anaheim but it will also be a big night for Ryan Whitney who played a key part in the Penguins success following the lockout.
Sources inside the organization tell me they want to see more consistency from defenseman
Kris Letang, most importantly in the offensive zone. Letang has five assists on the season but has been pointless in 9 of 10 games.
Are expectations too high for Letang? Maybe. He is only 22 years old and there are going to be consistency issues but as a source told me over the weekend relating to Letang’s contract status, the team just doesn’t value Letang as a $4 million per season player at this point in his development.
Because of Letang’s contract demands, the organization expects more.
Bayda wants out?
*There continues to be talk out of Wilkes Barre, that the agent for Ryan Bayda has been actively seeking a trade for his client. Bayda for his part is playing very well and leads Wilkes Barre with 6 goals. He is drawing some interest and Pittsburgh will move him if they can get a draft pick in return.
Edmonton, Chicago, Carolina, St. Louis had scouts in attendance for Wilkes Barre’s last game against Toronto.
I’m hearing good reports on Ben Hanowski, the Penguins 2009 3rd round pick. Hanowski is a freshman at St. Cloud State and is regarded as the Penguins best goal scorer in their system.
Through eight games this season, Hanowski has 4 goals and 1 assist on the season. He’s not putting up great offensive stats but he’s playing a strong two-way game and the big test for Hanowski will be when the schedule becomes tougher in the coming months.
Eric Tangradi has missed the past 7 games with what is being described as a strained shoulder. Tangradi was cleared for contact last week and did travel with the team during their 3 game road trip but Tangradi was held out of action.
Barring a setback, Tangradi is on target to return this weekend.