PITTSBURGH - Ray Shero made the kind of trade smart general managers make.
He used his surplus to address a need.
The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired left wing James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars for defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Make no mistake, Goligoski is a good player: He's an offensive defenseman who was tied for the team lead in plus-minus and occupied one of the point spots on the power play.
Penguins fans probably didn't appreciate him as much as they should have because Kris Letang is even better at adding offense from the blue line.
Goligoski will step in and play a bigger role for the Stars than he did for the Penguins.
The Penguins' urgent need is for goal-scoring wingers. Neal has scored at least 20 in each of his three NHL seasons. It's not unreasonable to think he could improve on that with the Penguins' superior cast of centers.
That need for scoring goes beyond the current shortage brought on by the team's incredible collection of injuries.
Fitting talented wingers under the salary cap has been a problem and the Penguins have tried to patch their way through, hoping their superstar centers can make average wingers better.
Neal will help. There's less certainty about Niskanen, but there's also less urgency on defense.
The Penguins won't disrupt their top four defensemen (Letang, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and Zybnek Michalek) to make a spot for Niskanen.
He'll compete at the bottom of the depth chart with Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland.
Shero may not be done. He still has cap room and would like to add another goal-scoring winger.
Anyone who doubted how much the Penguins need skilled offensive players would have been swayed by watching Monday's 1-0 home loss to Washington.
The Penguins got 39 shots, but couldn't finish plays.
Neal will help in that area. With Sidney Crosby's availability unknown, it would help more to grab one of the "rental" players on the market, who probably wouldn't cost more than a mid-range draft pick.
What a deal
There's still snow on the ground, but things should get warmer in the next week with exhibition baseball back on the radio.
Major League Baseball offers an incredibly good deal on its audio package. You get access to all MLB local radio broadcasts for the entire season (beginning with exhibition games) for just $19.95.
If you like baseball on the radio and can reliably get audio via your computer, it's one of the best deals in sports.
Mehno is at firstname.lastname@example.org