The Pittsburgh Penguins are finally getting it.
Pittsburgh has been so very fortunate over the years to land explosive talent via the NHL draft. They acquired the kind of talent that you rarely can find on the trade market. Other teams around the league would kill to have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang as their core three players.
However, for years the Penguins have blundered the depth part of the equation. Sure, injuries are a well documented problem Pittsburgh has faced but they can't control that. The horrendous roster decisions they have made over the years is something they've had total control over.
Today is a huge step forward for the Crosby/Malkin era. The team was able to identify a team weakness and turn it into a team strength.
Jim Rutherford and his army of Assistant General Managers were able to target a franchise that values the wrong things and took advantage of them. The Vancouver Canucks have been a mess the last few seasons and are believers in what the Penguins used to think was valuable.
So here is the Penguins haul for today:
This is nothing short of amazing. Dropping Sutter and his 3.3M cap hit for nothing would have been an improvement for the Penguins but acquiring his better and cheaper replacement in the same trade is terrific. Pittsburgh also upgraded from a third to a second round draft pick. I will have to do some more research on Adam Clendening but he certainly does not negatively impact this deal at all.
Eric Fehr for three years at a 2.0M cap hit is great. I talked about Eric Fehr being a potential third line center UFA replacement option but with Bonino in the fold Fehr can also play wing on the third line if need be.
* It is worth noting that Eric Fehr did have elbow surgery last month and will miss 4-6 months because of that surgery. The six month mark should fall in December so consider it a speed bump in what should be a great contract for three years*
These moves give Pittsburgh some more roster flexibility and opens the door for some other trade options that may not have made sense before. Whereas before I was not in favor of a Kunitz trade I think you could now responsibly entertain that idea more than you could a day ago. What would that do? Open up cap space to plug that last remaining hole on the Penguins roster, another top 4 defenseman. Cody Franson...
At the current moment here is the Penguins forward depth chart:
What a drastic turnaround from just two years ago or even just 7 months ago...
OK so let's take a look at these moves with a fine toothed comb.
First up we will look at how these players have done over the years in the roles they have been given.
Overall Fehr has been a tremendous player in the roles he has been given. Great value at 2.0M
Both Brandon Sutter and Nick Bonino have had some lean years in this department. However, the last two years Bonino has been markedly better than Sutter. The important thing to remember here is that Bonino costs 1.4M less than Sutter and is signed at that price for an additional year while Brandon Sutter is a pending UFA. Bonino also bounced around from top six to bottom six roles in Anaheim while Sutter underperformed in his predominately bottom six role.
We all know that Brandon Sutter was an anchor in the possession department. That is not really up for debate. However, Sutter did score 21 goals last year and his supporters will use that as evidence that he is a useful player. Let's see how Bonino compares to Sutter in that area of his game
First up Sutter
Pittsburgh's newest addition, Nick Bonino
Bonino is light years ahead of Brandon Sutter as an offensive player. Bonino isn't a possession darling but he's still way better than Sutter. This is an obvious upgrade for the Penguins
And for good measure here is Eric Fehr and his 2.0M cap hit
Damn, what a steal.
Today is a strong sign the Pittsburgh Penguins finally get it and that is bad news for the rest of the NHL.
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