PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins roster shakeup began Wednesday afternoon. During GM Jim Rutherford’s press conference to announce his three-year contract extension, Rutherford said there would be roster changes shortly. Within minutes, news leaked, the Penguins sent Carl Hagelin to the Los Angeles Kings for struggling winger Tanner Pearson.
Pearson, 26, is in the midst of an abysmal start. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound winger has just one assist in 17 games and is a minus-9.
Pearson’s contract runs through 2021 with a $3.75 million salary cap hit.
Hagelin, 30, has been a staple of the Penguins speed game since his acquisition from Anaheim mid-way through the 2015-16 season. Hagelin famously helped form the H-B-K line with Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel which propelled the Penguins to the 2016 Stanley Cup championship and made Phil Kessel a Pittsburgh hero.
Industry sources close to the L.A. Kings were also caught by surprise. Pearson was thought to be on the trading block, and some speculated the Penguins could make a move but nary a word leaked until after Rutherford indicated the deal was coming.
Pearson also has a Stanley Cup ring. He helped form “That 70’s Line” with Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter as Los Angeles won the 2013-14 Cup. Pearson notched career high goals and points in 2016-17. He scored 24 goals and 44 points.
For the advanced stat devotees, Pearson’s time in Los Angeles, which is not a Corsi driven team, was generally positive. He held a Corsi rating above 55 percent in his first four seasons, before dipping to 51 percent last season and 49 percent this season. Pearson’s PDO is an ungodly low 91 percent, which means he is due for some puck luck.