Tangradi never made the grade
PITTSBURGH – Eric Tangradi always looked like he was going to be a good hockey player.
He had the size (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) to be the kind of power forward and/or net front presence that every team needs. But when it came to actually delivering on that potential, the numbers demonstrate the failure: One goal and five points in 45 games over parts of four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Little wonder then that Tangradi, who was Anaheim’s second-round draft choice (42nd overall) in 2007, could only bring a seventh-round pick when the Penguins finally gave up and traded him to Winnipeg last week. (In hockey, a seventh-round pick has about the same value as a free coffee coupon for Tim Horton’s).
Tangradi started the current season playing left wing on Evgeni Malkin’s line, with James Neal. In short order, he was demoted to the fourth line. Then he was a healthy scratch. Soon he was packing for Winnipeg. Olympic skiers don’t go downhill that fast.
In this abbreviated season, there’s not a lot of time for patience, but Tangradi was on an especially short leash. His lack of production was well-established, but he still looked like he was going to be a good player.
Two years ago, the Penguins invited Tangradi to their prospect camp. He had outgrown that, but they wanted to see if he would show any signs of leadership. That didn’t happen, and it was just another area in which he disappointed.
The lasting image of his time with the Penguins will be Tangradi down on the ice, dazed and being taunted by New York Islanders goon Trevor Gillies after being felled by Gillies’ elbow during that ridiculous brawl on Feb. 11, 2011.
That’s not a career highlight by any means, but one goal in 45 games doesn’t make for a lot of possibilities.
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Mehno can be reached at email@example.com.