Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tangradi's Chance Looms, but So Does Lockout in Nhl

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tangradi's Chance Looms, but So Does Lockout in Nhl

Article excerpt

Eric Tangradi has looked over the depth chart and recognizes the opportunity it could give him.

He just has no way of knowing when -- or whether -- it will happen.

The Penguins roster, as currently constituted, looks to be down at least one top-six winger, likely on Sidney Crosby's left side.

That's a role Tangradi would like to get a chance to fill, but if the league locks out its players in eight days, as seems virtually certain, his aspirations would go on hold, just like everything else associated with the 2012-13 season.

"I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life and I'm coming off a pretty positive season, really earning some [NHL] games, earning some time in the lineup," Tangradi said Thursday. "The way the depth chart looks, it looks like there's a good opportunity, if I show the coaching staff, to play here."

Tangradi said coach Dan Bylsma and his assistants haven't informed him of their plans, but unless there is a major acquisition before training camp opens, he should be in line for an audition.

To this point in his NHL career, Tangradi's most impressive statistics are his vital ones -- he's listed as being 6 feet 4, 221 pounds.

He clearly has the size to be a power forward and has been touted as such since long before the Penguins acquired him, along with left winger Chris Kunitz, from Anaheim for defenseman Ryan Whitney in 2009.

He has had a limited impact at this level, however, with just one goal and four assists in 40 NHL appearances. That has prompted some segments of the fan base to dismiss his chances to be a significant contributor in coming seasons, even though he is just 23.

To put Tangradi's age into perspective, consider that Kevin Stevens -- who went on to become a 55-goal man in the NHL -- spent 45 games with Muskegon in the International Hockey League when he was 23.

The success Stevens had in subsequent seasons obviously doesn't guarantee that Tangradi has a few 50-plus goal seasons in his future, but Stevens' career arc reinforces the idea that bigger players sometimes need more time to develop than others.

That reality hasn't stopped some blogs and other non-traditional media outlets from writing him off as an underachiever who never will merit more than a footnote in the organization's plans. …

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