Jim Rutherford had a pretty crappy summer in 2017. Trading for Ryan Reaves, signing Matt Hunwick to a three-year extension, and not doing much for center depth made for a long offseason. That doesn't even account for the players that they had to walk away from (rightly so).
Well, that is just a distant memory right now. Jim Rutherford and his staff have done a great job at amending those mistakes. The Pittsburgh Penguins not only rid themselves of one of their summer errors, but totally revamped their center position which hasn't been this good since Jordan Staal left back in 2012. The Penguins now have Derick Brassard
This was a complicated deal as was stated during the day. So complicated that the league nixed the first attempt. The one above is official. What isn't on this visual is that the Vegas Golden Knights will be retaining 40%(!) of Derick Brassards salary. Crazy. Still not sure what Vegas is getting out of this, but thank you. Perhaps this is it?
Whatever. As for the salary retention the Penguins press release says it is for this season, but doesn't elaborate further which opens up an interpretation that it is only for this year. However, I'm not sure you can do that. I believe it has to be for the entire contract. This year matters the most right now, so we'll cross that bridge in the future.
Like I said this is a great deal for the Penguins. Giving up a first round pick in your Cup window is fine if you aren't blowing them on rentals. This isn't a rental. This is going to be an impact player in the sense it creates matchup nightmares for the opposition again. Filip Gustavsson by all accounts is an elite goaltending prospect. How long was he going to have to wait to see the ice in Pittsburgh? Who's to say the Penguins don't draft another good goalie in the fourth round or something. It's not like they've had problems finding goalies in later rounds in recent years. Losing Ian Cole is going to have the biggest direct impact on this current roster. He was having a great season within the role he was given. This opens up the door for Matt Hunwick to play more, but I have a feeling he's on borrowed time as well. If Rutherford can lose his salary he could go hunting for another bottom pairing defenseman. Worst case scenario you just bump Chad Ruhwedel into the lineup. Not the worst thing in the world if it means Derick Brassard is your third line center.
Riley Sheahan immediately becomes a great fourth line center creating further matchup issues. Take a gander at this potential lineup
Damn, that rivals the 2015-16 team and might even be better. The three-peat is alive and well right now.
So let's talk about Derick Brassard and what kind of player he is. I think he is a gifted playmaker and is somebody who can help drive play. He isn't going to shoot the puck much, but that is what Kessel and Guentzel are for. Meshing abilities and finding good matches is easier with depth like this and the Penguins have no shortage of options to make things work. Brassard's numbers aren't as good this year if you look at raw numbers, but his team sucks. He's still fine. When you take into consideration that he lost Kyle Turris and was in a top six role in Ottawa and then compare it to his new situation the numbers are going to bounce back, I presume. Here's a snapshot of his last two seasons.
Here's a look at his microstats courtesy of Ryan Stimson and his army of trackers
This is SOLID. His lone weakness is shot volume and I already discussed why that should be a non-issue.
Hockey is still full of variance and luck so this doesn't guarantee the Penguins another Stanley Cup, but it sure increases the odds. It also helps with any short term absences that may arise with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Apparently, there was a hockey game tonight as well. Pittsburgh crushed Carolina 6-1 and is now in first place in the Metropolitan Division. A great day for hockey in Pittsburgh? A great day for hockey in Pittsburgh.
Thanks for reading!