IMAGINE staring at a depth chart every day and seeing the names Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Sutter et al.
Fun crew to watch, tough lineup to crack.
That was Eric Tangradi's hill to climb in hockey until late Wednesday afternoon when the Winnipeg Jets sent a 2013 seventh-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for him.
"I'm pumped," said Tangradi in a telephone interview. "I'm just really excited. I don't know what opportunity awaits me and what not, but I think it was time for a change of scenery for me. I do believe I'm an NHL player but wasn't getting that opportunity in Pittsburgh.
"I've felt for the last couple of years that I am NHL-ready. Pittsburgh has a veteran-loaded team and I'm looking forward to playing my game and not having any other worries."
The Jets made another move on Wednesday, recalling goaltender Eddie Pasquale from St. John's after Al Montoya suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's loss to Philadelphia. To fill that hole in St. John's, Chris Carrozzi was summoned from the Ontario Reign of the ECHL.
A big dude at 6-4, 235 pounds, Tangradi arrives less than 24 hours after the Jets struggled to handle the Philadelphia Flyers size, especially down low, in Tuesday's 3-2 loss. A former second-round draft pick by Anaheim who came to Pittsburgh along with Chris Kunitz in a deal for Ryan Whitney in 2009, Tangradi suited up for five games this year with the Pens but did not pick up a point.
He did see some action on the left side of Evgeni Malkin earlier in the season, but had been a healthy scratch for eight straight games. At one point, he was considered one of the top prospects in the Pens' organization and is still seen -- obviously by Jet management -- as a prototypical power forward.
"Because of my size, physicality is an aspect of my game that has to come first for me," Tangradi said. "I believe I skate pretty well, I can get to the net and have good hands. I'm just hoping to play a gritty game, contribute any way I can and be very physical and strong on the walls.
"(The Jets) knew my game and the way I played and seem excited to have me. I'm equally excited for a new opportunity and the chance to put on a Jets sweater. Playing there for Pittsburgh this year, you could see the atmosphere. It looks like an amazing place to play hockey."
Tangradi was hoping to get on a flight to Winnipeg Wednesday night, but traffic and weather issues in Pittsburgh will likely delay his arrival until Thursday. He could be in the Jets lineup with his new team against his old team on Friday with the Penguins in town.
Montoya was forced to leave Tuesday's game after the second period and was replaced by Ondrej Pavelec. He did remain on the bench for the third and head coach Claude Noel will address the extent of Montoya's injury on Thursday when the squad returns to work.
Pasquale, 22, has played in 36 games for the IceCaps so far this season and posted a 14-19-2 record, 2.63 goals against average and 0.912 save percentage. A year ago he was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team and was selected as the IceCaps Top Rookie.
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