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Analysis: How Penguins’ Draft-Day Trades Have Worked Out



Pittsburgh Penguins trade Patric Hornqvist

There invariably are trades at the NHL Draft — usually, a lot of them — and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been involved in more than a few over the years.

Of course, most tend to be like the one Ron Hextall swung last July 8, when he gave Florida the Penguins’ seventh-round choice in 2022 for the Panthers’ No. 7 pick this year.

Not the kind of move likely to alter the balance of power in the league.

There are, however, often a few high-impact deals struck, a few prominent players who are sent to different teams.

Whether Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations and interim GM, will try to negotiate a major trade in conjunction with the draft June 28-29 in Nashville remains to be seen.

Here are some of the more significant trades the Pittsburgh Penguins have made immediately before or during a draft:

The deal: Penguins get a No. 2 draft pick and F Jon Gruden from Ottawa for the signing rights to G Matt Murray on Oct. 7, 2020.
The upshot: Murray often was injured with the Senators and was traded to Toronto last year. Although Gruden has yet to establish himself as an NHL regular, goalie Joel Blomqvist, who was claimed with that second-round choice, is climbing the Penguins’ organizational depth chart.

The deal: Penguins get F Ryan Reaves and a No. 2 from St. Louis for a No. 1 and F Oskar Sundqvist on June 23, 2017.
The upshot: Reaves was one of the NHL’s elite heavyweights and figured to provide some badly needed muscle, but never seemed to find favor with coach Mike Sullivan and was traded to Vegas about eight months later. The second-rounder, D Zachary Lauzon, had his career cut short by concussion issues. Sundqvist helped the Blues win a Stanley Cup in 2019 and is now with Minnesota. The first-rounder, Klim Kostin, was traded to Edmonton last year.

The deal: Penguins get Fs Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling from Nashville for F James Neal on June 27, 2014.
The upshot: Jim Rutherford made his first big splash just a few weeks after replacing Ray Shero as GM with this exchange. Hornqvist became a mainstay on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Cup-winning teams in 2016 and 2017 and Spaling was sent to Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade in 2015. Neal continued to be a reliable 20-plus goal-scorer, but never quite matched the impact he had when Evgeni Malkin was his center.

The deal: Penguins get a No. 1 pick, D Brian Dumoulin and C Brandon Sutter from Carolina for F Jordan Staal on June 22, 2012.
The upshot: Staal had tired of being slotted behind Sidney Crosby and Malkin and wanted to team up with his brother, Eric, in Carolina. Shero obliged him, but only after getting Sutter, a capable replacement as the No. 3 center, Dumoulin, a fixture on the Penguins’ defense for the better part of a decade, and the first-rounder, Derrick Pouliot, who was pretty much a flop.

The deal: Penguins get a No. 1 and a No. 3 from Florida for a No. 1, a No. 2 and F Mikael Samuelsson on June 21, 2003.
The upshot: Although Samuelsson was a capable forward, this swap was all about the draft picks — and the Penguins clearly got the best of it. They used the first-rounder to land G Marc-Andre Fleury and the No. 3 on F Daniel Carcillo. The Panthers invested their first-rounder in F Nathan Horton, whose career was cut short by injuries. The No. 2, F Stefan Meyer, played a total of 20 games in the NHL.

The deal: Penguins get D Kevin Hatcher from Dallas for D Sergei Zubov on June 22, 1996.
The upshot: Hatcher was a perfectly capable NHL defenseman, but Zubov was tireless and a brilliant puck-mover who was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. Advantage — and a big one — Dallas.

The deal: Penguins get F Joe Mullen from Calgary for a No. 2 draft choice on June 16, 1990.
The upshot: Craig Patrick’s lucky he didn’t do serious jail time for this theft. He got a major contributor to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup victories in 1991 and 1992 and the first U.S.-born player to score 500 goals in return for a pick that yielded a player, Michigan State D Nicolas Perreault, who never skated a shift in the NHL.

The deal: Penguins get Fs Orest Kindrachuk and Ross Lonsberry and D Tom Bladon from Philadelphia for a No. 1 and a No. 8 on June 14, 1978.
The upshot: Then-GM Baz Bastien seemed to have a fondness for players who had outlived their usefulness on the far side of the Commonwealth — fans of a certain vintage might recall the likes of Ed Van Impe, Dave Schultz and Bobby Taylor — ending up here, and this trade was another example. Kindrachuk, Lonsberry and Bladon contributed, to varying degrees, to a Penguins team that was going nowhere in the late 1970s. The Flyers used that No. 1 pick on D Behn Wilson, who played 601 games with them and Chicago, and the No. 8 pick on G Jerry Price, who never reached the NHL.

The deal: Penguins get D Randy Carlyle and F George Ferguson from Toronto for D Dave Burrows on June 14, 1978.
The upshot: Bastien obviously was busy the day before the 1978 draft. In addition to the Philadelphia trade, he sent Dave Burrows, probably the best defensive defenseman in franchise history, to the Maple Leafs, and earned a personal victory in the process. Ferguson was speedy and a pretty fair goal-scorer, while Carlyle went on to become the only defenseman in franchise history to win a Norris Trophy.