Whitney is considered one of the best young defensemen in the game today and has the potential to be a first-pair defenseman in the future. The fact that he was traded is not surprising because the return of Sergei Gonchar to the Pens’ lineup left Pittsburgh with a surplus of blueliners. With the Pens looking (again) for a winger for Crosby, Whitney was seen as likely to get the best return in a trade. With Scott Niedermayer expected to spend at most one more season in the NHL, this is Anaheim’s long-term solution.
Kunitz isn’t the biggest name in the league and probably not the biggest name that the Pens could have received if they pushed the issue. In his favour, Kunitz is a decent goal scorer with a career high of 25 goals in a season. Playing with Crosby or Malkin, that number should go up but Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko (who came to Pittsburgh this season) haven’t thrived playing with those superstars (both are on pace to score less than 40 points each). As for Tangradi, he’s been rated as the second best prospect in the Ducks’ farm system.
My early pick for trade winner: The Ducks
This past off-season, defensemen were paid a huge premium with even second pair defensemen getting contracts in the $4 million per season range. Being able to get a top player through 2013 for $4 million per year is a great spot for the perpetually salary cap challenged Ducks to be in.