Pittsburgh Penguins: Last Hour Disappointment

Pittsburgh Penguins fans waited all day Monday to find out what magic Jim Rutherford could pull off. Unfortunately, we were all very disappointed by the last minute deals. 

Trade #1: Erik Gudbranson, D for Tanner Pearson, LW

The first trade that was announced was Erik Gudbranson for Tanner Pearson. It was widely anticipated that the Penguins would make a deal for a Right Handed Defenseman. This need was accentuated by the recent injury to Kris Letang. It has already been announce that he will miss today’s game in Columbus. 

Erik Gudbranson, D (VAN)

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Let’s take a look at what the Pens are getting with the addition of Gudbranson. In 57 games for the Vancouver Canucks this season, he has 2 goals and 6 assists and a league worst -27. He averages 17:59 of ice time. So those numbers may be glaringly bad, but the numbers that really jump out are his possession metrics. He has a -7.4 CF% and a –7.9 FF%. Both of these metrics are in the lower half of defensemen in the league. 

Now the Pittsburgh Penguins do have a history of resurrecting the careers of defenseman. If Sergei Gonchar can work his magic, this could be a trade that Penguins fans quickly forget about. 

When I was doing research for this article, I reached out to a Canucks insider to learn some more about Erik Gudbranson. Clay Imoo had the following insight to add: “Gudbranson was very well-liked in the community. He is friendly, approachable, and really good with the media. Female fans found him handsome. His teammates liked him for the leadership he provided on the ice and in the locker room. And he was involved with many of the team’s charity and community work.”

For more great Canucks commentary, you can follow Clay on Twitter @CanuckClay or on YouTube

Tanner Pearson, LW (PIT)

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Tanner Pearson was added on November 14 in exchange for Carl Hagelin. He was brought in to add more scoring punch to a line with Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin. In the early days of that trade, he did provide just that. He has cooled off quite a bit, and was a healthy scratch in recent games. With this trade, I would prefer to like to withhold judgement. 

One interesting thing of note was Jim Rutherford‘s comments last week about the abuse that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tend to take. In my opinion, this trade reminds me of the failed trade that brought Ryan Reaves to the Penguins for Oskar Sundqvist. An overreaction to recent events that leaves the Penguins slower and more “physical.” 

Trade Grade: D-

Trade #2: Chris Wideman, D for Jean-Sebastien Dea, C

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In the second trade of the day, Pittsburgh acquired veteran defenseman Chris Wideman from the Florida Panthers for Jean-Sebastian Dea. I won’t harp much on this trade, as it was essentially an AHL trade. Wideman has only appeared in 25 games this season, split between Ottawa, Edmonton and Florida. He has accrued 2 goals and 5 assists with a -12 rating. 

Dea has appeared in 23 games this season, split between the New Jersey Devils and Pittburgh Penguins. He has netted 4 goals and 2 assists with a 0 rating. 

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Wideman would likely be a guy that they would call up in an emergency situation during the playoffs, if one of the more offensive right handers gets hurt. I would not anticipate seeing Chris Wideman with the NHL team at any point this season. 

Both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. 

Trade Grade: C

In Summary

I find both of the trades made by the Pittsburgh Penguins to be unnecessary overreactions. I would understand the necessity, if Kris Letang or Brian Dumoulin were expected to miss significant time. However, both players are listed as day-to-day. As it stands right now, the Penguins are outside of a playoff spot, and neither of these moves makes fans believe that the organization is committed to making a run. 

The fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins have been quite spoiled for some time, but maybe it’s time that they brace for the inevitable rebuild that is to come. I feel like there is still a window to compete with Crosby, Kessel, Malkin, and Letang as the core, but the recent moves by Jim Rutherford is starting to make me question his ability to manage the bottom half of the roster. 

I am not one that would call for his dismissal, but the Penguins are not going to be able to protect Bill Guerin from other organizations forever. Maybe the team can use the approach that the Tampa Bay Lightning took this season. With Steve Yzerman stepping down for a lesser role, but remaining to help tutor Julian Brisboise. 

There is a quote that this fan-base has seemingly clung to: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” -Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights. 


Author: Justin Miner