Americans On The Move

Some Early Trades Among NHL Teams Involving Some Top U.S. Players
Jessi Pierce

With the 2011 trade deadline just a week away on Feb. 28, NHL teams across the board are looking to make moves that will position them for a run at the Stanley Cup.

Among those switching the logo on the front of their jerseys are 13 Americans, including nine first round picks in their respective years. USA Hockey Magazine took a look at who went where and if you need to buy a new jersey or switch teams for your favorite Americans.

•    Alex Goligoski (Defense)- From Pittsburgh to Dallas: Drafted by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Penguins traded the Grand Rapids, Minn., native for another Alex Goligoski was sent to Dallas by the Penguins on Feb. 21Alex Goligoski was sent to Dallas by the Penguins on Feb. 21Minnesotan—Matt Niskanen – on Feb. 21. Goligoski averaged 20 minutes per game in 60 games this season, tallying 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists) with an injury-ravaged Pittsburgh team. A member of the 2004-05 U.S. National Junior Team, Goligoski’s playing time is expected to increase with the Stars and will be a guy looking to produce some points on the blue line.

•    Matt Niskanen (Defense)- From Dallas to Pittsburgh: A first round pick in 2005 for the Dallas Stars, Niskanen made an immediate impact with the Stars in the 2007-08 season, playing in all 16 playoff games and recording three assists before the team fell to Detroit in the Western Conference Finals. While his offensive output has fallen off this season, the Virginia, Minn., native will be looked to help pick up a slumping Penguins team.

•    Kevin Shattenkirk (Defense)- From Colorado to St. Louis: Out of Greenwich, Conn., Shattenkirk was picked up in the first round by Colorado Avalanche in 2007 where he played a mere 46 games in his Avalanche career before being traded to St. Louis on Feb. 19. A product of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, Shattenkirk honed his craft at Boston University before heading to the Mile High City.

Erik Johnson got the go-ahead goal in his first trip back to St. Louis as Colorado went on to win, 4-3.Erik Johnson got the go-ahead goal in his first trip back to St. Louis as Colorado went on to win, 4-3.•    Erik Johnson (Defense)- From St. Louis to Colorado: The first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by St. Louis and the Blues’ face of the franchise, Johnson left for the mountains on Feb. 19. An NTDP alum and 2010 Olympian, the Bloomington, Minn., native is young and talented enough for the Avs to build their blueline corps around for years to come.

•    Blake Wheeler (Forward)- From Boston to Atlanta: A first round pick to Phoenix in 2004, this is the second time Wheeler has packed his bags and headed to another NHL city. Breaking in to the NHL in 2008-09, the Robinsdale, Minn., forward put up a combined 83 points the past two seasons, including six in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run last season. Since being traded to Atlanta on Feb. 18, Wheeler is already back producing points, recording an assist in his first game as a Thrasher.

•    Mark Stuart (Defense)- From Boston to Atlanta: The captain of the gold-medal winning 2004 U.S. National Junior Team, Stuart has spent six seasons in the black and gold before the trade to Atlanta on Feb. 18. A former NTDP player, Stuart’s gritty play in the defensive zone has proven influential for a team’s success.

•    Paul Mara (Defense)- From Anaheim to Montreal: An 11-year NHL veteran, Mara has seen his fair share of jersey change. A first round pick in 1997, he has suited up with five different teams as he Paul Mara's trade from Anaheim on Feb. 17 was just in time for him to take part in the Heritage Classic on Feb. 20.Paul Mara's trade from Anaheim on Feb. 17 was just in time for him to take part in the Heritage Classic on Feb. 20.gets his second chance with the Canadiens, playing there in the 2009-10 season, after the trade on Feb. 17. Representing the USA in three IIHF World Junior Championships from 1997-99, the Ridgewood, N.J., native has seen limited action (and points) the past two seasons.

•    Patrick Davis (Forward)- From New Jersey to San Jose: Picked up by the Devils in 2004, Davis has been a presence in the AHL. Garnering 35 points last season, the Sterling, Mich., native will look to break in to the NHL in San Jose with the trade that sent him to sunshine on Feb. 9.

•    Jay Leach (Defense)- From San Jose to New Jersey: Another veteran that has seen his fair share of teams—five in five seasons—the 1998 first round draft pick returns to New Jersey as of Feb. 9. Suiting up with the Devils for 28 games in 2008-09 season, Leach hopes to increase his NHL appearance as he has proven to be a go-to guy with AHL playoff teams.

•    Steven Zalewski (Forward)- From San Jose to New Jersey: Picked up by San Jose in 2004, Zalewski teamed up with Leach to head to New Jersey on Feb. 9. Playing in just three games with San Jose this season, the Utica, N.Y., native has 62 points with the Worcester Sharks.

Jack Skille is hoping to make a name for himself in Florida.Jack Skille is hoping to make a name for himself in Florida.•    Jack Skille (Forward)- From Chicago to Florida: A first pick for the Blackhawks in 2005, Skille had finally found himself a role on the 4th line with Chicago until a trade sent him to Florida on Feb. 9. With 17 points in 49 games in Chicago and one point in six games as a Panther, the NTDP alum should see more action in Florida and play a more predominant offensive role.

•    Al Montoya (Goalie)- From Phoenix to New York (Islanders): A first round pick by Islander foe, the New York Rangers, in 2004, Montoya has been between the pipes for Phoenix’s AHL team (San Antonio) before the Feb. 9 trade. The NTDP alum and two-time U.S. National Junior Team member has suited up in four games as a replacement for injured American netminder Rick DiPietro recording three wins in the process.

•    Jake Gardiner (Defense)- From Anaheim to Toronto: The first-round pick in 2008 saw his first trade before his first NHL game when the Ducks swapped with Toronto on Feb. 9. A member of the gold-medal winning 2010 U.S. National Junior Team, Gardiner is in his third season at the University of Wisconsin.

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