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Trade Deadline Drama: Penguins Deal Pearson for RHD Gudbranson

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VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 02: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) looks up ice during their NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Arena on November 2, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 7-6. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire)

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa — Just minutes before the NHL trade deadline, the Penguins traded struggling winger Tanner Pearson for large defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

The Pittsburgh Penguins scheduled a trade deadline day news conference for 2:45 p.m., 15 full minutes before the NHL trade deadline at which Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was expected to announce the Penguins didn’t like the prices on defensemen and the Penguins passed on the deadline.

2:45 p.m. came and went.

Finally, at 3:30 p.m. word leaked the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired large defenseman with low point totals and worse Corsi. Steel yourselves Corsi lovers, Gudbranson has not been on the ice for more than 50 percent of shot attempts since 2013-14. The advanced stats get worse from there. This season, Gudbrandon has been on the ice for only 34 percent of goals-for and 38 percent of scoring chances.

“Obviously, we have issues on defense with injuries,” said Jim Rutherford. “I don’t really know what the status is on some of these guys.”

Rutherford later clarified that didn’t mean to imply he was out of the loop, only that the injuries to Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta do not have specific or firm timelines.

This summer, Gudbranson signed a three-year, $12 million contract.

Gudbranson, 27, has been playing nearly 18 minutes per game as solid third pairing minutes. He is a minus-27 this season with eight points (2g, 6a) in 62 games. Gudbranson also has 83 penalty minutes including three fights, this season.

“Getting the type of player that Gudbranson is, is something we’ve talked about for a while. He wasn’t available, to my knowledge, until today,” Rutherford said. “In Erik’s case, he’s a real heart and soul guy, a good dressing room guy. He’s got good character. And he can protect our players.”

Gudbranson is 6-foot-5, 217 pounds fought Mike Haley on Jan. 13. Haley was part of the line brawl between the San Jose Sharks and Penguins last week. Gudbranson also fought Travis Hamonic in October and Ryan Getzlaf on Feb. 13.

Gudbranson’s career-high point total was 13 points (4g, 9a) in 2014-15 with Florida.

“He puts us in a position to push back when we get into more physical games,” Rutherford said. “Somes teams play a skating, skill game and some teams play a more physical game. He’s going to bring that element to our team.”

A source told Pittsburgh Hockey Now the Penguins believe Gudbranson may have untapped talent and could alter his game in an uptempo puck moving environment, but the Penguins wanted someone to provide some physical cover for their star players who have recently been under attack. Gudbranson is also a stay-at-home, shot blocker.

Pearson. 27, has recently been a healthy scratch and struggled to find his place in the Penguins lineup after being acquired for Carl Hagelin in November. Pearson has just one point (1g, 0) in the last 13 games. His salary cap hit was $3.75 million and like Gudbranson is signed for two more years.

The Penguins also dealt JS Dea for Chris Wideman. More details coming.

The Penguins will call up Zach Trotman for tomorrow’s game in Columbus. Rutherford said Trotman will play but it’s unclear if Rutherford meant Trotman could play or if Gudbranson will not arrive in time.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

Any thug who has the potential to ef up Tom Wilson is fine with me. And Pearson wasn’t an exorbitant price to pay for him. (Makes me wonder if GMJR would like a do-over on the Hagelin trade.)

Lathen
Lathen
2 years ago

You know, I hear this every year “the pens need some size to protect the star players”, however that does NOT work, when the gritty player is not able to play with the star players. How is the gritty player going to protect Sid and geno, when mister gritty player is not on the same line or capable of playing with the stars, to protect them. It’s the same crap every year and then the gritty play doesn’t do anything to help. They dont need a big guy that can fight, they need a big guy that can score and… Read more »

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Actually, it’s not a big misunderstanding. If you have a teammate who’s big and tough and not afraid to step in, I’m a lot less likely to punch you in the face. If the enforcer can play a little bit, then better yet. This spit has been going on with the Pens since the Lemieux days.

Do you see the Caps being bullied on even a semi-regular basis? If Wilson is in uniform, no, you don’t. If we had Wilson type last postseason, I guarantee that ZAR wouldn’t have gotten his face broken.

RIcardo58
RIcardo58
2 years ago

“And he can protect our players.” What? The team had Reaves and Sully didn’t play him much. Thus traded. So I’m guessing the new d-man will be scratched often after the new car smell wears off? Is there a disconnect between GM and HC?
Lastly the March schedule is brutal loaded with playoff teams. The Pens recent woes vs playoff caliber teams has been noticeable. After the physical play from SJ and Phil, I would expect the same from here on out. Go Pens.

James
James
2 years ago

Mark my words this will make a difference 44 my not be a Corsi god but this team has been crying out for at least something in the form of a policeman! Since the crazy NYI game we made an effort to move away from the enforcer. It’s no coincidence that 81s play has been on a downward spiral since GMJR traded Reeves and Cole away.

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