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Ducks Acquire Whitney from Pittsburgh

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks acquired defenseman Ryan Whitney from Pittsburgh on Thursday in exchange for Chris Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi.
Whitney Conference Call (Audio)

Whitney Conference Call Transcript

Bob Murray Conference Call Audio
Bob Murray Conference Call Transcript

The Ducks have acquired defenseman Ryan Whitney from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Chris Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi.  

Whitney, 26 (2/19/83), appeared in 28 games for Pittsburgh this season, scoring 2-11=13 points with 16 penalty minutes (PIM). Whitney led the Penguins with an average ice time of 24:34 minutes per game and power-play time, averaging 5:39 minutes per contest. The 6-4, 215-pound blue-liner missed the first 33 games of the season with a foot injury before making his 2008-09 debut on Dec. 23 vs. Tampa Bay.

Selected by Pittsburgh in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Whitney has played four NHL seasons with the Penguins since making his debut in 2005-06. In 253 career games, Whitney has collected 34-116=150 points and 223 PIM with Pittsburgh, averaging 22 minutes-or-more of ice time in each of his four seasons. He ranked sixth in scoring among NHL defensemen in 2006-07 while also setting career highs in goals (14), assists (45), points (59), power play goals (9) and appearances (81). In 2007-08, Whitney ranked second on the Penguins in time on ice (22:28) and fourth in blocked shots (114) before helping lead the club to a Stanley Cup Final appearance against Detroit.

Ducks Executive Vice President & General Manager Bob Murray will hold a conference call with reporters later this afternoon that will be posted as soon as it's complete

A native of Boston, MA, Whitney played for the United States in the World Junior Championships in 2002 and 2003, scoring 1-4=5 points in seven games in 2003. Whitney also played three seasons at Boston University from 2001-04, leading the team as a junior with 9-16=25 points in 2003-04.

Kunitz, 29 (9/26/79), appeared in all of Anaheim’s 62 contests this season, scoring 16-19=35 points with 55 PIM and a +9 rating. The Regina, Saskatchewan native led the club in hits in each of the last two seasons. In 315 career NHL contests, Kunitz has collected 81-111=192 points with 299 PIM and a +57 rating. He appeared in his 300th NHL game on Jan. 17 at Minnesota.

The 26-year-old Whitney appeared in 28 games with the Penguins this season, scoring 13 points and leading the team with an average time on ice of 24:34 per game.

A member of the Anaheim’s 2007 Stanley Cup championship team, Kunitz has appeared in 35 career postseason contests (all with Anaheim), earning 4-12=16 points with 35 PIM. The 6-0, 193-pound winger was originally signed by Anaheim as a free agent on Apr. 1, 2003 after playing four years of college hockey with Ferris State of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). He was named the CCHA Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker Award finalist for the 2002-03 season.

Tangradi, 20 (2/10/89), appeared in 52 contests with Belleville of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season, collecting 38-49=87 points with 57 PIM. Playing in his third season with the club and first as team captain, the 6-3, 220-pound winger ranked second among league leaders in scoring, fourth in goals and seventh in assists. Tangradi, a 2009 OHL Eastern Conference All-Star, also represented the United States at the 2009 World Junior Championship in Ottawa, scoring 1-2=3 points in six games.

Selected by Anaheim in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia, PA native has collected 67-100=167 points in 173 career OHL games. In 2007-08, Tangradi helped lead the Bulls to the OHL Championship Series, collecting 7-11=18 points in 20 contests prior to an appearance at the 2008 Memorial Cup.

Whitney spoke to reporters via conference call Thursday afternoon. Following is a transcript:

On his reaction to being traded
I had heard a little bit. Every player here heard trade rumors here and there. I wasn’t sure, but I was expecting it a little more than I think would have maybe last year at this time. I was excited. It’s been a weird. I’m home in Boston any way for some family reasons. To get the call that I was traded and that they are actually in town right now, it’s been pretty crazy.

It’s a new start and a team that I feel wants me. They gave up a good player and a real good prospect. It’s exciting to know that this team really wants me and I’m happy to be here as well. Last season was great. We went to the Stanley Cup Final and personally, I had a good playoff. It was a real run year overall. Then, I had the foot problem and got that fixed, so I missed a lot of time. I know that I can play better than I have this year and I think I will. It’s about me getting some confidence back and having a new start.

On coming to play in Southern California
It’s a little weird. I’ve only been out there a couple of times when I played the Ducks and the Kings. I’ve always known cold weather with Boston and Pittsburgh. It should be a little different. Obviously, I’m going to have to buy some shorts. It’s a pretty exciting time to meet the guys. I don’t really know anyone on the team. It’s going to be pretty crazy living in a different part of the country and being on a new team.

On his current status
I’m just actually going to into the rink right now in a minute or so to meet the coaches. Tonight we fly to Dallas, so I’ll be talking to coaches and see what the plan is. I’m not really sure as of right now.

On how his status is physically coming back from foot surgery
I’ve been doing a lot of rehab with it. It feels a lot better than it did last year. At the same time, I think it still has a ways to go strength-wise. I think any surgery you have, a lot of times it can be a full year until you really feel 100 percent again and have the problem fixed. Just skating and the exercises I do, with band work and therapy, it’s really getting the strength back slowly but surely. It takes a little time, but I’ll be there soon enough. Either way, it’s been than it was last year, so there is an improvement.

On what he expects to bring to the Ducks
I think that I try to move the puck real well out of my own zone and I jump into the play when I can. Hopefully, if I’m on the power play, I can move the puck around and gets shots on net. I have to continue to work and continue improve on all those things. Defensively, it’s the same way, being good in my own zone and strong in front of your own net. I’m working on everything. Right now, I think I move the puck pretty well and can bring the puck out of my own zone. Those are little things I try to bring. I really haven’t talked to the coaches yet to hear what they expect and what they want. Once I meet them, it will probably make things a little easier knowing what is expected. I have expectations for myself too. It’s an exciting time.

On knowing any of the Ducks
I played in a YoungStars game a few years ago in Dallas with Getzlaf. I met him briefly. There are no guys that I have played with before or others that I am real personal with because I really haven’t met any of them yet.

On expectations with the trade and his contract
I put pressure on myself, more than anybody can make me feel. I put pressure myself to really play well and become a great player. I think that’s a good thing for any player to become successful and that is what I try to do. The contract brings expectations. It’s the same as any player. Coming to a new team, I want to play well. I want to show that they made a good trade and I want to be a part of this team for a long time.

On leaving Pittsburgh
I’m a little surprise when I heard that I was getting traded. They have two young defensemen in Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang, who are good players. Right now, they make less money than me. They are playing well and are a little than me. It’s not too surprising. I haven’t played as well as I could have this year. Last year, a lot of the time it was an up-and-down season. I’d play well and then not play well. I was playing with a foot problem that is now on its way to really being fixed, which is great. I had great times in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out in the end for me. We went to the Stanley Cup Final and it was great run last year. I made tons of friends.

Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray spoke to reporters later in the afternoon. Following is a transcript:
I’d really like to thank Chris Kunitz first of all. He is a true warrior. He played his heart and soul out for our organization for a number of years and won a Cup with us. It’s a tough thing when you have to part with guys who gave so much to win. I thank for him for all his contributions to our group. In saying that, you have to give to get. We had to give a valuable part of our organization today to get a young puck-moving defenseman. It’s tough it is to get a player of Whitney’s caliber. I can remember the first time I saw him years ago. He had just come out of college late in the year and was playing for Pittsburgh’s farm team. Craig Patrick, who was the GM of Pittsburgh, happened to be there and after I saw the second period, I just said ‘Wow, you have a good one there don’t you?’ I gave up two good players today to get a puck-moving defenseman, but that is the price. As an organization, we felt that we just had to start rebuilding this defense.

On what Whitney brings to the Ducks
What he brings to the table is he is a big kid and can skate and move the puck. The game is evolving and you better get the puck out of your own zone. Since Beauchemin’s been gone, all you have is Chris and Scotty, who are really good at moving the puck up the ice. Then, Huskins went down. In the game today, you have to move that puck up the ice. We have good forwards and you have to get the puck to the forwards. Whitney can do that. He also is very good on the power play. He can shoot the puck and sees the ice very well. He’s a very good puck-moving defenseman, who sees the ice.

As far as the health issues, he had one foot looked after last year. I talked to Ray Shero about that a couple of times here. I’ll talk to Ryan about it when I talk to him. If he has to have the other one done, that is no problem. We’ll just get it done in the beginning of the summer instead of the end of the summer this time. It’s not major. It’s correcting something instead of having to wear orthopedics. It’s something he may want to do. I have no problem with what happened there.

On Whitney’s acquisition in regards to the future
If you look down the road, we knew way back when that we had to do something to address this situation. We were working on it and this became available in Pittsburgh. This is a good move for both teams. Let’s face facts here. Pittsburgh is getting a good hockey player here. They have been looking for somebody to play with either Crosby or Malkin. It’s a good fit for both teams. They have good young defensemen there at good prices and they could afford to do this. It’s definitely with an eye to the future. I think we’re as good a team, if not a better, than we were yesterday.

On if this move directly leads to another move before the deadline
No, nothing for sure. I realized when we did this what the speculation would be. There has been enough speculation already on this and that. When you have a team like ours, which has good hockey players, but for some reason is struggling mightily this year and is in 10th place, this is going to happen. Our guys haven’t had to face this in a few years around here. When you’re in 10th place and you have good players, people are going to wonder and there is going to be speculation about lots of things. Obviously, there is going to be more now. I’m listening. I have nothing going that way right now with any other defenseman. If I can make the organization better, I will do it. Don’t read anything more into it than that. This wasn’t done for that purpose. This was done because going forward we needed to do something here. I’m a big believer in building from the back end out and the back end was not good enough.

On the disappointing season thus far for the Ducks
If I could answer that, I would have fixed it already. We don’t know. The players and coaching staff are scratching their heads. We’ve tried some things to jolt them and to wake them up. Something has been missing with that group. They had a good run at the end of last year, but they were flat in the playoffs. There was no emotion or no energy in the playoffs with Dallas last year and it just seemed to carry over into this year. I don’t have an answer for you. I wish I did and I wish I could explain it. But for some reason, there are too many games where we come out and look like we don’t have any interest in playing the game that night.

On the trade deadline
When a team is struggling like ours was, there have been a lot of calls for awhile. The intensity and the level of the calls has picked up here in the last couple of days, not only with me, but around the league with everybody. We’re getting near the trade deadline and money is so tough. In our league, there have hardly been any trades this year. Money is tough to move. In today’s game, we’re getting to the point when your team leaves camp, that is the team you’re going to have for a long time and it’s going to tough to be able to do anything with it. This is the one period here, the trade deadline, where you can make some changes to your hockey club. Then, the draft is the next time you can do it.

On the importance of the next few games
I still believe this group can make the playoffs. I think we’re a better team today than we were yesterday. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t go on a little run here. The games are huge. If the right thing for the organization comes along, then I have to do what is right for the organization and I will do that.

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