The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski, the teams have announced.
Early reviews is a complete steal for the Penguins who land their coveted top-6 forward but also add a defenseman in part of the deal to shore up their top-6 with Goligoski going the other way. Pittsburgh not having to give up another asset via prospect or draft has sent shock waves around the league.
The type of return the Penguins got shows how much value young puck moving defenseman have right now.
Neal, 23, is in his third NHL season. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound left winger ranked third on the Stars this season with 21 goals and fifth with 39 points.
A native of Whitby, Ontario, Neal established career highs offensively last season with 27 goals, 28 assists and 55 points in 78 games. In 214 NHL games the 2005 second-round pick (33rd overall) has 72 goals and 131 points. He is a three-time 20-goal scorer.
Neal spent four seasons with the Plymouth Whalers (Ontario Hockey League), tallying 68 goals and 173 points in 187 games.
Niskanen, 24, is in his fourth NHL season. The 6-foot, 200-pound defenseman has posted six assists in 45 games this season. Niskanen’s best season came in 2008-09 when he led all Dallas defenders in scoring with 35 points (6G-29A).
The Virginia, Minnesota native was Dallas’ first-round selection (28th overall) in 2005. In 277 career games with the Stars, Niskanen tallied 16 goals and 82 points. Niskanen has three assists in 16 career postseason appearances.
Prior to joining the Stars, Niskanen spent two seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he scored 45 points (10G-35A) in 77 career contests.