PITTSBURGH — The Penguins have taken the ice for today’s practice at the Consol Energy Center. No James Neal or Matt Niskanen as both players had their flights to Pittsburgh delayed.
Both were expected to be on the ice this afternoon but the weather has halted those plans.
Meanwhile, Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin are not practicing today. The Penguins have re-assigned Ryan Craig and Brian Strait.
Here’s some tidbits on the fallout from yesterday’s trade:
Discussions between the Penguins and Stars centered around a few different scenario’s than the three player swap. Neal and Goligoski were obviously the center pieces but Pittsburgh was determined to get a defenseman out of the deal and some bigger names were involved that could have made this deal at least a four player swap.
Pittsburgh I’m told tried to work out a deal that would have landed Neal and defensive minded defenseman Mark Fistric but the two sides couldn’t agree on what else would come back to Dallas. Top prospect Eric Tangradi was in play, among others.
Niskanen was key to the deal for Dallas from a money standpoint. He had fallen so out of favor in Dallas that sending his $1.75 million salary ($1.5 million cap hit in 2011-2012) to Pittsburgh for next season was not seen by the Dallas brass as giving up another asset for Goligoski. This was seen as Pittsburgh having to take some salary back to land Neal.
Niskanen is the wildcard on how he fits in Pittsburgh. Some have their doubts and see a Niskanen – Engelland pairing as major weakness on Pittsburgh’s blueline going forward. The Penguins though like Niskanen and feel he can be a good fit in Dan Bylsma’s system, most notably in the puck moving department.
Money committed for 2011-2011
With yesterday’s deal, Pittsburgh has $54.866 million committed to 16 players. — 7 forwards, 7 defenseman and 2 goaltenders.
The cap is expected to rise in the range of $61.5-to-$62.5 million range but a few impending free agent forwards the Penguins would like to keep, likely won’t be back.
Pens still willing to bring in Kovalev
According to capgeek, the Penguins have around $3 million in cap space but I got some clarification from team contacts today who said that the Pens actual cap space is closer to the $5+ million range.
That has Alexei Kovalev still on the Penguins radar, sources say. The Penguins though remain in no hurry to workout a deal.
As I mentioned last week, the Penguins have expressed an interest in giving up a conditional draft pick for Kovalev. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals are among the teams kicking the tires but both teams are seeking bigger fish.