The Pittsburgh Penguins have spent the final decade with increased expectations than virtually another NHL squad. Stacked with high-end expertise and depth to make deep playoff runs, the group has continuously been in win-now mode all through Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s primes.
A part of the rationale the Penguins have been aggressive for thus lengthy is the aggressiveness displayed by Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford because the group’s basic managers (GM) over the past decade. Neither GM has ever been shy about making a giant splash on the commerce market, even when it doesn’t at all times work out. What are among the Penguins’ greatest and worst trades over the past decade?
Finest Trades of the Decade
The mixture of group success and entrance workplace aggression has actually yielded some nice outcomes. There are at the very least a dozen impactful trades over the past decade that you can make a case for because of a pair of Stanley Cup wins and a handful of different deep playoff runs. Nevertheless, there are just a few that stand out from the pack.
Penguins Purchase Phil Kessel in Blockbuster
This one was simply the largest no-brainer of all. In one of many largest trades in franchise historical past, the Penguins despatched a handful of gamers (together with their latest first-round decide Kasperi Kapanen) and two picks (first and third rounds) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel. Pittsburgh additionally obtained a second-round choice in return. On high of that, the Maple Leafs truly retained a little bit of his wage to assist make this deal work.
This July 2015 commerce actually signified that the Penguins had been all-in for a Stanley Cup chase and it labored wonders. Kessel racked up 110 objectives and 303 factors over 4 seasons with Pittsburgh, together with his first profession 90-point marketing campaign in 2017-18. Extra importantly, he scored 45 factors in 49 postseason video games through the back-to-back Stanley Cup runs.
This commerce and the firing of head coach Mike Johnston simply months later set the course for the way forward for the franchise. As a bonus, later that month, the Penguins acquired Nick Bonino from the Vancouver Canucks in a deal that narrowly missed the lower on this record. Pittsburgh despatched Brandon Sutter in trade and really flipped its third-round decide for a second-rounder in that deal. That decide can be used on Filip Gustavsson.
Whereas Kessel’s time in Pittsburgh got here to an finish in a less-than-positive method through the 2019 offseason, he’ll be immortalized in Pittsburgh sports activities historical past perpetually; the Penguins wouldn’t have received these back-to-back Cups with out him.
Penguins Swap Neal for Hornqvist
Whereas the Kessel acquisition was the very best and largest deal, the commerce for Patric Hornqvist might have been essentially the most impactful because it was Rutherford’s first essential transfer as Pittsburgh’s GM. In June 2014, simply a few weeks after Rutherford’s hiring, the Penguins despatched James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.
Whereas Neal was nonetheless a strong winger and common point-per-game scorer on the time, Hornqvist helped change the group’s id. He instantly discovered chemistry with Crosby and gave opposing goalies nightmares down low. He’s bodily and a pest to play in opposition to, however was nonetheless a constant offensive menace with at the very least 20 objectives in every of his first 4 seasons with the Penguins.
Scuderi Shipped Out for Daley
When speaking in regards to the Penguins back-to-back championships, there are at all times just a few missed gamers. Arguably essentially the most underrated participant throughout that point was defenseman Trevor Daley. Simply two days after the firing of Johnston in December 2015, Rutherford shipped Rob Scuderi to the Chicago Blackhawks for Daley in a one-for-one deal.
Daley was higher than Scuderi in almost each regard and the commerce instantly regarded like freeway theft for the Penguins. The 5-foot-11 blueliner scored 41 factors in 109 video games with Pittsburgh throughout its two Stanley Cup-winning seasons. He additionally notched one other 11 factors in 36 postseason appearances with the group.
Extra importantly, he and the remainder of the defensive group, stepped up massive time through the 2017 playoffs after Kris Letang’s neck surgical procedure held him out for the whole run. It was a terrific effort by the whole unit, however Daley’s veteran management was actually seen.
Penguins Land Iginla for Playoff Run
Whereas he might have already been out of his prime, it was nonetheless a giant deal when the Penguins reeled in a future Corridor of Fame ahead in Jarome Iginla previous to the 2013 commerce deadline. He scored 11 factors in 13 common season video games earlier than amassing one other 12 factors in 15 postseason contests.
General, the commerce itself labored out nice because the Penguins made it to the Jap Convention Ultimate. Sadly, they bumped into the Boston Bruins and Tuukka Rask who was an absolute buzzsaw in that collection; the Penguins had been swept and Iginla would truly signal a one-year cope with the Bruins the next offseason.
Maybe the very best information of the commerce is that not one of the property given up had been too vital. Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski mixed to scored 5 factors of their respective Calgary Flames careers. The primary-round decide that Pittsburgh parted with was used on Morgan Klimchuk who has only one NHL sport in his profession.
Worst Trades of the Decade
In fact, even with back-to-back Stanley Cup wins and the NHL’s longest lively postseason streak, nobody’s good. As a result of the group has been so aggressive, most dangerous trades don’t look fairly as malignant as different groups’ would. Nonetheless, there have been just a few massive errors by Rutherford and Shero over the past decade.
Penguins Purchase Ryan Reaves from Blues
In an try to get greater and extra bodily within the 2017 offseason, Rutherford introduced in Ryan Reaves, a big-bodied bruiser. He was coming off profession highs in objectives (7) and factors (13) with the St. Louis Blues through the 2016-17 season. The Penguins obtained Reaves and a second-round decide in trade for Oskar Sundqvist and a first-round decide.
It was a drastic over-payment to start with, however Reaves did precisely what he was anticipated to: he threw his weight round, obtained in a handful of fights, and averaged underneath seven minutes of ice time per sport. His tenure with the Penguins lasted solely 58 video games earlier than he was flipped to the Vegas Golden Knights in a three-team deal the place the Penguins landed Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. It was hardly value a younger ahead and first-round decide.
In the meantime, Sundqvist reached a brand new degree with the Stanley Cup-winning Blues final season, scoring 14 objectives and 31 factors earlier than tallying one other 9 factors within the postseason. Klim Kostin, the prospect taken with the Penguins draft decide, is at present one of many Blues high prospects and made his NHL debut this season.
Penguins Ship Sheary, Hunwick to Sabres
Usually, this is able to have truly been a reasonably strong transfer. After signing Matt Hunwick to a three-year, $6.75 million deal within the 2017 offseason, the Penguins used Conor Sheary as a sweetener to clear up over $5 million in cap area in June 2018. In return, the Buffalo Sabres despatched a 2019 fourth-round decide that was used to commerce up for Nathan Legare.
Sadly, lower than every week later, most of that freed up cap area was used on a five-year, $16.25 million deal for Jack Johnson. As dangerous as Hunwick was for many of his Penguins tenure, he was cheaper and his contract would’ve been off the books after the 2019-20 season.
Sheary wasn’t as efficient in his last season as a Penguin however he may nonetheless suffice as a strong middle-six winger. Had that cap area been used extra effectively — whether or not in free company or one other commerce — this is able to’ve been a run-of-the-mill cap dump. As an alternative, the Penguins are nonetheless tethered to a foul contract for the close to future.
Penguins Swing Huge for Murray
Simply days earlier than the Iginla commerce, the Penguins additionally added a blueliner for his or her soon-to-be playoff run. The group despatched two picks (second and third spherical) to the San Jose Sharks in trade for Douglas Murray. The Swedish defenseman was by no means a lot of an offensive menace however the Penguins had been extra excited about his bodily aspect.
As talked about with Iginla, the Penguins did have a reasonably profitable postseason run in 2013, however the overpayment for an ineffective Murray didn’t transfer the needle very a lot. He scored simply 6 factors in 29 video games between the common season and playoffs. The next offseason, the 6-foot-3 blueliner signed with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Penguins second-round decide would later be traded to the Detroit Pink Wings and used to pick Tyler Bertuzzi. The 24-year-old winger is proving to be a strong younger participant; after scoring 47 factors final season, Bertuzzi has racked up 10 objectives and 24 factors to date through the 2019-20 season.
The Penguins have made way more good trades than dangerous ones over the past decade, and in franchise historical past for essentially the most half. Practically each commerce that Rutherford comprised of 2014-2016 labored out extremely properly within the type of two championships. Nevertheless, followers will at all times be left questioning whether or not Klim Kostin may’ve been the subsequent nice, younger ahead for the group or whether or not Sheary would’ve earned his method again into the top-six.
Tyler Bowen is a College of South Florida graduate and lifelong hockey fan. Tyler covers the Pittsburgh Penguins for thehockeywriters.com. You’ll be able to often discover him obsessing over his fantasy groups and in search of his subsequent playing tip.