This deal comes out of nowhere. Granted there were strong rumors that Whitney was on his way out of Pittsburgh but the fact he ends up in Anaheim is quite a surprise. Now, this can be analyzed two ways. The first is that the Ducks are loading up on defense and trying to make a run. The second, and more likely answer, is that Anaheim is adding Whitney with the intention of trading one of, if not both, Chris Pronger/Scott Niedermayer prior to the deadline.
As for the players involved, I don’t particularly like this move for Pittsburgh. I realize that the team is trying to add a scoring winger in Kunitz, but his salary is just under $3.6, $3.8 and $4.0 million over the next three seasons. His production has been solid but he has never scored over 25 goals in an NHL season and hasn’t exactly been playing with third liners. Of course he will produce with Sidney Crosby (who wouldn’t?) but the cost seems quite high.
We obviously cannot overlook the addition of Eric Tangradi in this deal, as he is a prospect who possesses plenty of upside. That said, considering Anaheim is a team that loves to play a physical style of game, the fact they dealt the big forward away might be an indication of their concern over his future development. In any event, he could be the wildcard here.
Over to Anaheim; Whitney, on the other hand, is under contract for four more seasons at a cap hit of $4.0 million. The young defenseman has struggled since he returned midway through the season due to injury, but was terrific for the Penguins last season. For me, the American defenseman is the key to this trade. Puck moving defensemen don’t grow on trees in the NHL, especially ones just about to hit their prime. I think he’ll be a great fit on the Ducks back-end.
I like this deal more for Anaheim than I do for Pittsburgh.