“It’s a good way to not make friends in this room, by dumping the puck in,” Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson joked with Pittsburgh Hockey Now.
The Penguins affable, hulking 6-foot-5 defenseman decided to stand for an interview which meant our camera angle was straight up. That is the same view some opponents including Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson have had, too. The Penguins acquired Gudbranson from the Vancouver Canucks for the wallpaper-esque Tanner Pearson last February to take care of the Penguins stars but Gudbranson arrived with a little bit of baggage, too.
Things had not gone well after he signed a three-year, $12 million contract.
Gudbranson earned the ire from fans and the analytics community as a hard-handed defenseman without puck skills. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford saw something different. Rutherford saw skills that were not being utilized in Vancouver and expressed optimism Gudbranson could be a different player in Pittsburgh.