A guaranteed punch line lurks in every story that includes "diverted to Newark," and Dan Bylsma had no trouble coming up with one after his Tuesday practice failed to include new Penguins James Neal and Matt Niskanen, late of the Dallas Stars and later of the Newark International Airport.

"I hope they don't think they were traded to the Devils," Bylsma said.

Not bad. Not bad.

But how 'bout this?

I hope, upon reaching their final destination, they don't think they've been traded to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

All right, that's not even a joke, is it?

When you get traded to Pittsburgh, you expect to walk into the dressing room and meet Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, two of the best players in the world, not most of the best of the top two scoring lines of the Baby Penguins, but the whole predicament is the essential irony of the Neal deal.

"James Neal didn't happen overnight," Bylsma reminded everyone shortly after the acquisitions in the Alex Goligoski trade Monday finally touched down, failing to add that neither could actually get here overnight.

"He's a guy that we've looked at and targeted and said, 'This is the type of player that we had been looking for, for our top six as a winger.' I think he's going to make us a better team going into [the game tonight against San Jose]. He's the kind of player who can make a difference. He could have made a difference [Monday] night [in a 1-0 home loss to Washington.]"

It has been years, meaning the years since Ryan Malone left, that Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero have coveted Neal's profile in an offensive player, a classical power forward with a heavy shot who creates goals and chaos and more goals in the low slot. The point was to augment the singular force that was Sidney Crosby, but now, when such a profile appears to finally have been procured, James Neal is not exactly a complement to Sidney Crosby.

He is Sidney Crosby, at least on a team without a single player with even 19 goals or 50 points. In the land of the lost superstars, the 21-goal scorer is king.

"I think right now, there is [some] leaning -- to use your word -- on the guys like Jordan Staal, and now like James Neal, guys that have more points than the other players," Bylsma allowed.