After a season riddled with injuries and let downs, the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to get back to the hockey they’ve been used to seeing by adding some depth to their lineup.
On Tuesday the Penguins traded centre Brandon Sutter and a conditional third round pick to the Vancouver Canucks in return for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendenning, and a second round pick. They also signed free agent Eric Fehr to a 3 year contract worth $2 million annually.
Bonino, a centre, played with the Vancouver Canucks last season after spending the beginning of his career in Anaheim. He has an annual cap hit of $1.9 million. His most productive year was during the 2013-14 season when he scored 22 goals and finished with 49 points in 77 games. His presence will upgrade a fairly weak bottom six forward group in Pittsburgh.
Defense prospect Adam Glendenning, 22, was drafted sixth overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011. Though he has played only 21 NHL games so far, he has shown potential while playing with the Rockford Icehogs in the AHL.
Fehr, also a centre, was a staple on the Capitals third line last season. While sporting 19 goals and 33 points in 75 games, his size (6’4, 212 lbs) also comes into play, giving the Penguins more strength down the middle. Though he did undergo elbow surgery in June, he should return early into the 2015-16 season.
The trade works well for the Penguins, who have struggling cap issues almost every year. They dumped Sutter’s $3.3 million cap hit for the equally productive but much cheaper Bonino. Bonino and Fehr cost a total of $3.9 million, a heck of a bargain when looking at Sutter’s contract.
The Penguins have been frustrated with early playoff exits since their 2009 Stanley Cup. Since then they’ve only played past the second round once, where they were swept by the Boston Bruins in 4 games in 2013. With players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang on the roster, expectations are always high for the Penguins. After adding Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel to the mix, GM Jim Rutherford is now starting to fine-tune this Pittsburgh roster that had more trouble than it should have last season.
Unless they are hit with another flurry of injuries or see a flop from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins look poised to battle for top spot in the Metropolitan division for the upcoming season.