Exploring Eric Tangradi as Sidney Crosby’s Winger

Tangradi should be given real time on a scoring line before a decision is made

This article originally appears at The Checking Line

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a sweetheart extension this June, but after missing out on Zach Parise, it appears he’ll begin the 2012-13 without the scoring winger Pittsburgh has long coveted.

Scoring winger or not, the franchise center will spend the next 12 years in Pittsburgh at just $8.7 million per season, shaving off roughly a third of what he could have earned in a spend-happy free agent market.

With the cap space he left on the table, the expectation has become that the Penguins will reward his loyalty with a high-scoring winger.

Given Crosby’s (relative) sacrifice, they should. When the time is right, they will.

But in a free agent market high on bloated contracts and low on talent, the answer doesn’t have to be found right away. It doesn’t have to be found on the free agent market at all, or even through a trade.

Pittsburgh can turn to its own forward depth for an answer, shallow as that pool might be.

Among those forwards is Eric Tangradi.

Cue the groans.

The big winger has had a terribly unproductive young career in the NHL, scoring just one goal and five points in 40 career games despite putting up 72 points (35G-37A) in 107 games with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Whether or not that disconnect is due to Tangradi’s skill (or lack thereof) at the NHL level has never properly been tested. Tangradi averaged less than nine minutes of ice time in his 24 regular season games in 2011-12. Virtually none of those nine minutes were spent on the power play, nor skating alongside Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or James Neal.

Few NHL wingers would be offensive powerhouses when flanking Craig Adams and Joe Vitale.

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Related posts:

  1. Neal, Tangradi Have Chances to Break Out in 2011-12
  2. Sidney Crosby’s Concussion Status, Potential Lines
  3. Sidney Crosby, Marian Hossa Headline Pittsburgh’s 2012 Free Agents
  4. Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin Rivalry Quickly Losing Steam
  5. Evgeni Malkin is More Important than Sidney Crosby

About James Conley

Chud Emeritus of Slew Footers. Penguins Correspondent at The Hockey Writers. Writer for sale.