PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Forward Nick Spaling knew that getting traded could be a possibility this offseason. So it wasn’t a complete shock when the Nashville Predators notified him Friday night that he had been traded. But when he found out his destination he was elated.
“I’m excited to join an organization like the Penguins,” Spaling told www.pittsburghpenguins.com. “I knew getting traded was a possibility, but I didn’t know for sure. Obviously, I had no idea where. To find out Pittsburgh was great, I feel like it’s a great organization to be a part of.”
Spaling, 25, has played the past four-plus seasons with Nashville after the team selected him in the second round (58th overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft. He set career highs in goals (13), assists (19) and points (32) in 2013-14 while playing in all situations.
“I got to play all areas of the game, which was great,” Spaling said. “This past year was a mix. I was playing the PK and power play. I did a little bit of both. It was good to be a part of it and contribute in every aspect.”
The 6-foot-1, 201-pound forward will bolster the Penguins’ bottom-6 group. Spaling also has the versatility to play all three forward positions.
“Spaling is a guy that adds depth,” associate general manager Jason Botterill said. “We talked about rearranging our bottom-6. He does that.”
But the aspect that the Penguins really love about Spaling is his intangibles. He can be physical and plays with heart. That’s something he’s hoping to add to the Penguins’ lineup.
“Playing the corners, playing the front of the net, playing the so-called hard areas, that’s the style of my game,” Spaling said. “I just want to bring the work ethic, compete every night and make sure I do whatever it takes to win. I want to contribute offensively and defensively. It’s going to be a change, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Spaling already has at least one friend in the Penguins locker room. He and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo were teammates with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. The two men won the OHL championship together in 2007-08.
“It’s cool to join Bortuzzo here,” Spaling said. “We played together (in Kitchener). So that will be fun. It will be good to catch up with him.”
Bortuzzo could help with Spaling’s transition. He has a lot of things to figure out, such as housing in Pittsburgh, to sort through in the coming weeks.
“I’m just taking the weekend to figure that stuff out,” Spaling said. “Big changes in a short amount of time, but I’ll take the weekend and get a plan together.”
And come September he’ll be wearing a Penguins uniform and skating alongside the talents of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“It’s not every year you get to play with guys like that,” Spaling said. “I’m leaving a team with a lot of exceptional players, but (Crosby and Malkin are) pretty special. There aren’t a lot of them in the league. It will be fun. It will be exciting. I’m hoping to watch them and be able to learn from them.”