Monday, February 21, 2011

Matt Niskanen Traded to Pittsburgh

It's been a rough year for former UMD and Virginia/MIB defenseman Matt Niskanen. After a strong rookie season in Dallas, and a second year that wasn't as good but still saw him playing a lot, Niskanen tailed off a bit under coach Marc Crawford.

A hand injury and a number of nights in the ol' press box later, and Niskanen finds himself packing for a move north.

Monday, the Stars traded Niskanen and forward James Neal to Pittsburgh for another former Northland star, defenseman Alex Goligoski.

The deal allows Pittsburgh to improve their forward depth, as they continue to sit around and hope that Sidney Crosby can again play hockey very soon.

(We don't know if Crosby will play again this season. We do know Evgeni Malkin won't. With that in mind, it is a good move for them to add Neal and the 21 goals he has so far.)

For Niskanen, it's a change of scenery. Even Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk knows it.

As far as Matt is concerned, it's been a little bit of trying times for Matt the last couple years. He hasn't been able to regain the form he broke into the league with and this is a good opportunity for him to get a new look with another team and hopefully get his career going.

Goligoski starred at Grand Rapids before playing three years for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He's a good puck-moving defenseman, and he gives the Stars a bit more offense on the blue line than they've been getting.

The hope is that Niskanen will thrive here. If he does, this deal is a bonus for the Penguins. As is, it looks like they won the deal, even without that happening, because Neal has a chance to make a real impact.

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