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Stars-Pens showdown proves trades sometimes work for both sides

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 29: James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during NHL game action against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 29, 2011 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)

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When teams make trades, they’re always trying to improve their own team. Sometimes they’re trying to pull one over on their trade partner. In the case of the Stars and Penguins, who battle tonight in Pittsburgh, they managed to pull off the ever mystical “traded that worked out for both sides.”

When Dallas traded James Neal to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski it was instantly viewed to be an instant win for the Penguins. After all, Neal is a young forward with a penchant for scoring goals in bunches. Goligoski was seen to be a good offensive defenseman but a defensive liability for a Pens team deep on the blue line. While Goligoski was an instant success in Dallas, Neal slumped most of last season unable to provide a needed scoring punch.

Dallas Stars v Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02: Alex Goligoski #33 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on April 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Fast forward to this year and both players are killing it for their teams as they sit atop their conferences.

Neal is one of the NHL leaders in goals scored and for a team without Sidney Crosby, and at times Evgeni Malkin, getting Neal to live up to his billing when he came in is huge. Goligoski, meanwhile, is helping a Stars blue line produce offense like crazy and helping the Stars stun hockey smart guys all over the place by continuing to win.

Trades don’t always work out for the best for both sides. In this situation though it’s done wonders for both teams in racing out to the lead this season.