PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Pittsburgh Penguins traded defenseman Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Chris Kunitz and a junior prospect, less than two seasons into a 6-year, $24 million contract that was supposed to make Whitney a key part of the Penguins' future.
Whitney, who turned 26 last week, missed Wednesday's night's 1-0 win against the New York Islanders. The Penguins said he was in Boston attending to a family matter.
Whitney and his agent could not immediately be reached for comment. The Penguins confirmed the trade but did not immediately speak about the deal as the team prepared for a five-game road trip that begins in Chicago Friday night.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray was expected to comment later Thursday.
Whitney has struggled since missing the first 33 games of this season following foot surgery. He has 2 goals and 11 assists and is minus-15 in 28 games this season.
Kunitz is a 29-year-old left wing who has 16 goals and 19 assists for the Ducks. He is a plus-9 in 62 games this season.
The junior prospect, 20-year-old Eric Tangradi, is a Philadelphia-born forward. He has 38 goals and 49 assists in 52 games this season with the Belleville Bulls in the Ontario Hockey League. He is not expected to make an immediate impact with the Penguins.
Whitney appeared to be part of the Penguins' nucleus of young stars - including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal - when he signed a new contract with the team in July 2007 after a breakthrough 2006-2007 season in which he had 14 goals and 45 assists.
But Whitney's production dropped to 12 goals and 28 assists last season, plus a goal and five assists in the playoffs when the Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup finals against Detroit.
Whitney attributed the decline to skating problems caused by misaligned bones in his left foot. He had surgery to correct the problem in August, after various orthopedic inserts in his skates failed to remedy it.
Whitney, 6-4, 215-pounds, averaged nearly 25 minutes a game this season, his fourth with the Penguins, who picked him fifth overall in the 2002 draft. He has 34 goals and 114 assists in 253 career games with the Penguins.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Kunitz leads the Ducks with 148 hits in his sixth NHL season. Kunitz has 81 goals and 111 assists in 315 games with the Ducks and the Atlanta Thrashers. He posted career highs of 25 goals and 60 points when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in the 2006-2007 season.
Tangradi is a 6-foot-4, 221-pound forward who played for Team USA in the 2009 World Junior Championships in Ottawa. He's in his third season in the Ontario Hockey League and was Anaheim's second-round pick (42nd overall) in the 2007 draft.
The NHL trade deadline is March 4.