All our life, we wanted a player's name on the Pens to sound like he is a stagecoach robber from the Wild Wild West. Enter James Neal.
The first reaction to the Neal acquisition from everyone imaginable:
At 6'3", 203 pounds, he's a bad son of a bitch; a power forward.
In his three years at the NHL level, he has shown improvement each year.
He's one month younger than Siiiiid.
Hard-pressed to find a decent YouTube showcasing his offensive skills.
There's a bunch of fights on YouTube, though.
I know there has been a lot of talk of Neal being a possible 40-goal guy with his skill set playing along Sidney Crosby. I think Pens fans should tap the brakes on that thought though at least a little bit and the reason I feel that way is because Stars fans got to see him play two full seasons on the same line as Brad Richards and he didn’t even crack the 30-goal mark. Now granted Crosby is a little bit better than Richards (I know you Pens fans scoff at the ‘little bit’ part) but still I think 40 is a big stretch. Not impossible, but unlikely.
What you do get with Neal though is a guy who should score 20 to 30 goals every season for the next five or six years at least provided he stays healthy. He also isn’t afraid of physical play so in that respect you have someone who can open up the ice for his line mates.
His biggest flaws and what ultimately made him the expendable one out of all the Stars wingers was his prolonged runs of inconsistent play which in turn you could tell on the ice made him a frustrated player with a lot of missed shots being the biggest by product of that play. When he is on “Real Deal” is a beast and can take over a game, when he isn’t he almost seems to disappear into the ice. This season, the disappearing act was happening a little too frequently.
Very honest response. Seems to be the same way we felt about Goose.
Looking more and more at this deal, it's astonishing that the Stars would've let this trade go through, even if it was a one-on-one Goligoski/Neal trade. But somehow Shero was able to wrestle defenseman Matt Niskanen away from Dallas, also.
Be prepared for all the butt-touching laughter stories surrounding the Crosby/Niskanen fight.
Guaranteed Niskanen is rehearsing answers to these questions on the plane ride to Pittsburgh.
With forwards, you can look up their stat lines and play hockey expert when evaluating their potential impact. With defensemen, it's kind of a wait-and-see approach, unless you can get some words from, say, a Dallas Stars blogger. We've reached out to them
but haven't heard anything.
Say the name out loud, though: NISKANEN. He has to be good.
He was the 28th-overall pick in the 2005 draft.
Most Stars fans consider losing Niskanen “addition by subtraction” at this point. I don’t know if I would go that far but his list of redeeming qualities this season was limited to: Looks good with a goatee. He debuted with the Stars in 2007 and instantly looked like a very promising rookie, in hindsight though we should have realized a lot of that came as a result of playing beside Sergei Zubov. In the 08-09 season after Zubov left and Nisky had a slow start to his sophomore season it felt like he had lost all confidence in his offensive ability – which is what Stars fans thought he was good at – and really regressed defensively which wasn’t exactly a strong point of his to begin with but again was masked by the fact he always had Zubov backing him up… It’s been that way ever since with him being a study in massive frustration. For every flash of a nice play he makes with the puck or covering his man, it seems like he’ll make ten more boneheaded or panicked plays that hurt the team.
In the end, Stars fans are pretty much in agreement that what Niskanen really needed was a year in the AHL and not just the 13 games he got coming out of the NCAA in 2007 but the issue with that of course is that he would have had to clear waivers and with him being still a nice young prospect, the chances he’d make it unclaimed were and still are slim. Hopefully with him going to a team like the Pens he won’t be as pressured to perform, he can play 10 to 15 minutes a game as a 5th or 6th d-man and get his confidence back.
Barring injuries, here's the Pens' blue line:
We'll go into battle with that.