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Stempniak, Goc embrace trades to Penguins

NHLI via Getty Images
The Flames' Lee Stempniak (left), battling with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik last season, was acquired by Pittsburgh Wednesday, March 5, 2013.

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By Josh Yohe
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:27 p.m.
 

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Penguins players received what they wanted Wednesday: a little bit of help.

The Penguins sounded delighted to remain intact — none were parted with during the team's two trades — and are enthused about the additions of forward Marcel Goc and right wing Lee Stempniak. They didn't believe a blockbuster was necessary to contend for the Stanley Cup.

Now they'll get a chance to prove it.

“It was a vote of confidence in the group of players that we have here,” left wing Tanner Glass said.

While the Penguins are pleased no blockbusters were made, they also are delighted with the additions of Goc and Stempniak.

Stempniak in particular drew praise. He has become training partners with defenseman Brooks Orpik in Boston during the summer and formerly played with Glass and Taylor Pyatt.

“He was my captain at Dartmouth,” Glass said. “Awesome guy. He has the offensive talent and instincts. But he works at it. He's one of the hardest-working guys I've ever been around, to be honest.”

Orpik and Glass said Stempniak is difficult to play against because of his lower-body strength. He has 146 goals in 616 NHL games, though he has only nine goals this season while playing for struggling Calgary.

“He's going to fit in,” Orpik said. “He's got a great shot, and he's a straight-line player. Maybe his numbers are down a little bit this year, but a change of scenery might help him.”

“If I could have made a list of teams to be traded to, Pittsburgh would have been right at the top, if not the very top,” said Stempniak, whose wife gave birth to twin girls on Friday.

Stempniak is a natural right wing and will be placed on a line with Sidney Crosby or Brandon Sutter. Coach Dan Bylsma said he isn't sure how his lines will shape up, though he referred to Stempniak and Goc as players who would improve the Penguins' “top nine.”

“We've talked about Lee Stempniak for a number of years,” Bylsma said. “It's not just a phone call today.”

While the Penguins like Stempniak's goal-scoring potential and rugged style, they also like the versatility Goc brings. He is a natural center who can play either wing, a standout penalty killer and a strong faceoff performer.

He could play on Sutter's left wing or center the fourth line.

“It doesn't matter,” Goc said. “I'm a natural center, but I can play wing. I'll talk with the coaches about it. I want to help in any way that I can.”

Stempniak and Goc said the Penguins' up-tempo style should be a good fit.

“The strengths of my game are being physical and getting on the forecheck,” Stempniak said. “When you think of the Penguins and how they play, those are the things you think of.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYoheTrib.

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