With the trade deadline fast approaching, making sense of all the names out there can be a tiresome process. You log into Twitter one morning after a fulfilling morning of Pop Tarts and orange juice, and as soon as you know it, you're rocking a beard that makes Brian Wilson look like, are addicted to speed metal, and can't figure out why you're living out of a cardboard box near the dumpster of your local Krispy Kreme.
Life is rough for a hockey fan this time of year. But we're here to help.
Leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline Fear The Fin will be looking at some players who have been mentioned in various circles throughout the year. We'll break down their strengths, weaknesses, enlist a few other writers from other sites to weigh in on the player, see why his current team would move him, and find the spot that he would fit in on the Sharks. We'll be supplementing that with discussions on our podcast of course, but this should serve as a nice little cheat sheet to get the whole party started.
Today we will be taking a look at Alex Goligoski of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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As mentioned by: Darren Dreger on Tuesday February 8th [link].
The Glowing Review: An excellent puck moving defenseman who will contribute offensively.
The Dark Secret: Defensively suspect with a penchant for turnovers.
Alex Goligoski is an intriguing defenseman for many reasons. His age and contract status means that an acquisition would result in a longer time frame generally associated with a trade deadline deal. Gologiski is 25 years old and has one year left on a $1.83 MM contract that expires in the summer of 2013, meaning he will be under the Sharks control for at least two and a half more seasons. That's a very intriguing situation for a team that has been burned by deadline deals in the past, and fits the bill for what the Sharks should be looking for if they upgrade the blueline-- young, under contract next season, and possessing room to grow.
Gologoski is a brilliant offensive defenseman, and his stat line over the last two years shows it. He broke the thirty five point barrier last season in Pittsburgh, is currently second on the team in points this season behind, and has amassed goal totals of 6, 8, and 9 respectively despite never having played a full 82 game season (something he is on pace for this season). He sees top minutes on the power play for the Penguins (3:40), racking up 14 points in the process. That has accounted for half of his production this season. He owns a nice shot that is accurate, and would instantly transform the Sharks power play into something that is even more dangerous than the current manifestation which is producing at a 22.6% rate, good for fourth in the League.
The issue with Goligoski is his defensive acumen-- if you're looking for a stopper, avert your gaze because you will be sorely disappointed. The man affectionately known as Go-Go faces the worst quality of competition, is fifth in even strength ice time, and has the lowest percentage of defensive zone starts on the blueline. He is second on the team in terms of giveaways, but unlike Kris Letang (who leads the Penguins), does not manage to alleviate those totals with a significant number of takeaways. Goligoski has struggled at times this season with his breakout passes, typical for a young defenseman of course, but he should not be counted on to do any heavy lifting defensively.
A good comparison for Goligoski would be. Much like Ehrhoff, Goligoski can skate well and is able to make any team immensely dangerous in the offensive end. Those talents come with a price however, as relying on them to shoulder the load defensively is well out of their realm of expertise. As Ehrhoff has proved in Vancouver however, putting him in the right situation around a strong supporting cast and using his talents in selective spots can hide those inadequacies, making the player of clear value to the team.
Passing it to the point: Hooks Orpik of Pensburgh weighs in with his thoughts.
Goligoski's pretty polarizing among Penguin fans and might be the closest thing to a whipping boy on the team.
Goligoski's a great skater and very effective puck mover out of his own zone. He's a power play specialist on the point who seems to think the play reasonably well. One area he struggles offensively is with a little hesisation, at times it seems he doesn't trust his shot and will hold the puck too long. He's also a very streaky scorer, when he's "on" he might score 3 goals in 3 games but then he could go 15 games without a goal, so it seems staying consistently confident and "trusting his stuff" as they might say in baseball could apply here too.
In his own zone, Goligoski's still a work in progress. He's not physical at all, his positioning is decent, his stick work is passable. I happen to think he's OK defensively on most nights, but there's no doubt Goligoski's a better player when his team has the puck. Still, this is his third year, and his boxcar stats have improved every year, probably to about the 40 point mark this year. He probably maxes out as a 50 point guy who maybe is a 4/5 guy at even strength and a top PP quarterback.
He's got a very favorable contract for the Pens, and there's no replacement for him on the PP or as the #5 defensemen, so I don't see them moving Goose this deadline, unless in the big scheme of things they're going to get a defenseman somewhere else.
Why the Penguins Would trade Goligoski: Without for the season, Pittsburgh is in desperate need of forward help. Goligoski is an expendable chip to give up in that regard considering Kris Letang fulfills the offensive defenseman role for Pittsburgh while admirably holds down the swing role.
Quid Pro Quo:, clearly. If the Penguins are looking to make an upgrade amongst their forwards this season, there's little here that would indicate a need for rental players-- with Malkin on the shelf, and Crosby out until March with concussion symptoms, this season isn't one where you put all your chips on the table. Since Goligoski is one of the organizational pieces that can be used to land those wingers, receiving a similar player in return who is young and will contribute to the future as well is the only option here. The Penguins would want a multitude of uses-- they want to win here and now (Go Go for prospects, or a guy like , is extremely unlikely) but they also want some value in the future. Setoguchi gets them that.
Man Behind The Iron Curtain: Ray Shero is one of the most respected General Managers in the League and for good reason. He may have been given a lot of quality pieces to build around when the Penguins draftedand Evgeni Malkin, but nearly every trade he has made in recent history indicates a man who knows the value of his players and will exploit that to his advantage. Shero knows his stuff.
Where Goigoski Fits In: Withmaking some big strides defensively during his second season in the NHL, Goligoski's defensive weaknesses may make him a tough sell to replace Demers' minutes. But with the Sharks requiring some offensive pop from the backend, Goligoski would likely play a fair amount of minutes at even strength while obviously contributing heavily on the power play. He's not the bonafide top three defenseman so many have been asking for, but he'll be able to punch a time care in the middle of that defensive lineup. I would imagine that he and Demers fight over that four spot for the rest of the season to see which one comes out on top.
Comparable to Christian Ehrhoff, Goligoski isn't what many imagined Doug Wilson would be in the market for heading into the season-- the Sharks roster was loaded on paper offensively and were projected to score at least as many goals as they did last season. However, the team has really struggled getting consistent output from its top line and blueline, something that Goligoski would instantly help.
The concerns with Goligoski are ones that will trouble some, and for good reason. He's a fringe middle pairing player in the Eastern Conference, which is generally the weaker and more wide open Conference. With the tight checking game we see in the West, Goligoski's penchant for turnovers and limited physical ability could be exposed. Furthermore, he is considered a power play quarterback-- by all accounts San Jose needs help scoring at even strength, something that Goligoski would no doubt provide, but his greatest asset has and will be on the man advantage.
Essentially, Goligoski is a very similar player to Devin Setoguchi in many regards-- a young and talented player who struggles with inconsistency, talent that is as undeniable as it is streaky. The two teams would be flipping their alleged strengths for their perceived weaknesses, as Setoguchi would join a Penguins team that needs forward help while Goligoski would join a Sharks team that needs help on the backend. From that standpoint it's a potential deal that has some legs and makes sense at face value for both clubs.