The Pittsburgh Penguins have cleared up a bit of their logjam along their blueline as they have traded Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi.
''It's a new start and a team that I feel wants me,'' Whitney told THE CANADIAN PRESS. ''They gave up a good player and a real good prospect.
''Last season was great. We went to the Stanley Cup final and personally, I had a good playoff. Then, I had the foot problem and got that fixed, so I missed a lot of time.''
The 26-year old Whitney was a vital piece of the Penguins' Stanley Cup run last year; however foot surgery caused him to miss the first 31 games of this season. He has two goals and 11 assists in 28 games for Pittsburgh this year.
''I know that I can play better than I have this year and I think I will,'' Whitney said. ''It's about me getting some confidence back and having a new start.''
The Boston-native is one of the better puck moving defencemen in the league and should be a big boost to the Ducks' power play. He became deemed surplus goods when fellow defenceman and Penguins' primary powerplay quarterback Sergei Gonchar returned from a shoulder injury.
''What he brings to the table is he is a big kid and can skate and move the puck,'' Ducks general manager Bob Murray said. ''The game is evolving and you better get the puck out of your own zone.''
Whitney is in the second year of a six-year contract he signed with the Penguins last season. He was chosen fifth overall by the Penguins in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
In Kunitz, the Penguins will be getting an offensive-minded player who won the Stanley Cup in 2007. After campaigns where he put up 60 and then 50 points, the 29-year old Regina-native has 16 goals and 19 assists this season. He has spent the majority of his four NHL seasons with Anaheim.
''(Kunitz) played his heart and soul out for our organization for a number of years and won a Cup with us. It's a tough thing when you have to part with guys who gave so much to win,'' the Ducks' GM said.
''In saying that, you have to give to get. We had to give a valuable part of our organization today to get a young puck-moving defenceman.''
Tangradi, who just turned 20, is having a fine season with the OHL's Belleville Bulls. In 52 games, he has 38 goals and 87 points. He was drafted by the Ducks in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Both the Penguins and Ducks are in tight battles for post-season berths. Anaheim has 65 points and is in a logjam with three other teams for last two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Pittsburgh, the defending conference champions, finds itself 10th in the East, two points behind Buffalo for the final playoff spot.