With the trade deadline approaching in just a month and the Penguins trying to stay in the run for the playoffs, one has to wonder who General Manager Ray Shero will make a play for…and who he will be willing to deal to bring his target to Pittsburgh.
Since the Pens are consistently depleted by injuries, they need to make a move for someone like Hal Gill who can be physically dominating in the playoffs, something the Pens are missing right now with the loss of Mike Rupp.
Six foot four inch, 211 lbs Eric Tangradi could have been that guy to replace Rupp. Someone with a physically dominating presence who can also move the puck and isn’t afraid to scrap and knows when it is necessary. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sensation “Big Dog” seems more like a Lil’ Pup when he comes to the big leagues. He was a second round draft pick in 2007 for Anaheim and was believed to be a kid who would dominate the NHL one day.
While I understand that Tangradi is still young, turning 23 years old in a few weeks, one would think that by now, Tangradi would be showing more promise at the NHL level. He has played 28 games and scored 1 goal and 2 assists. He is the talk of the town in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but when he hits NHL ice, he doesn’t seem to be able to keep pace.
A player of his size can be useful in a multitude of ways, but Tangradi seems to lack an appreciation for his own size and the knowledge of what to do with it. He needs to play to his strength and his size is it. I’m not sure if it is more painful watching him engage in a fight or battle for a position in front of the net.
Bob Errey marveled at how big of a presence Tangradi was when fully erect in front of the net and how intimidating that presence was. He must not be that intimidating because he cannot maintain position. He lets players half his size bully him and push him around, many times knocking him clear off his feet.
His skating is also sub-par for the pace of an NHL game. He looks lethargic and like a dopey dog skating around compared to big guys like James Neal (6’2″, 208 lbs) and Jordan Staal (6’4″, 220 lbs) who are extremely skilled skaters for their size.
My biggest issue with Tangradi is that he does not seem motivated. Why was Anaheim willing to let their second round draft pick go when he came here with Chris Kunitz in exchange for Ryan Whitney in 2009? Kunitz by all accounts was a fantastic addition to the Pens roster, a completely underrated player who flies under the radar, racking up points in stealth mode and hitting everything in sight.
Tangradi has a full out, well maintained fan website, a very active Twitter account and a Facebook fan page that boasts of his accomplishments daily. He seems to enjoy the celebrity that comes with being a hockey player and satisfied with where he is, skirting along pandering to the WB/S fanbase where he is hailed and loved and playing Temple Run at night. The hunger is not in his eyes. It wasn’t there during Training Camp and the pre-season games in September, his big chance to earn his own locker at the Consol Energy Center.
Why haven’t the Pens seen more of Colin McDonald this season over Tangradi? He has 37 points this season and is +13, the highest on the team. Tangradi shows promise at the AHL level, but the speed of an NHL game is something he has yet to conquer. Is he complacent with his stardom at the minor league level? Perhaps. Or is Tangradi the Billy Bean of hockey: a prize draft pick that showed promise but wasn’t cut out for The Show.
My opinion is that Shero should deal Tangradi. The Pens system is deep in talented defense, but forwards are an issue. Package Tangradi with Tyler Kennedy and maybe Ben Lovejoy (Steve MacIntyre if we are lucky since getting rid of Eric Goddard and signing Smacker accomplished absolutely nothing) and grab a solid rental for the rest of the season. Use that cap space in the off season to sign James Neal.