Penguins Update: Rating Rutherford’s Trades – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: Rating Rutherford’s Trades

With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, I thought it’d be fun to glance in the rearview mirror and do a quick summary of general manager Jim Rutherford’s trades since he arrived in Pittsburgh.


Of course, the ratings are completely subjective, based on the observations of yours truly. Feel free to chime in if you disagree.

Minor-league trades and waiver transactions are not listed.

June 27: James Neal to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling

Skinny: Neal’s scored more goals than Hornqvist since the trade (71-64). However, No. 72’s emerged as a net-front tour de force and heart-and-soul leader.

Rating: A-

December 5: Philip Samuelsson to Arizona for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2016 Conditional Pick

Skinny: Pens received a bottom-six winger with size for a former prospect.

Rating: C+

January 2: Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st Round Pick to Edmonton for David Perron

Skinny: Trade looked great until Perron cooled following a torrid start.

Rating: C

January 27: Marcel Goc to St. Louis for Maxim Lapierre

Skinny: Swap of unproductive fourth-line centers.

Rating: C

February 25: Zach Sill, a 2015 4th Round Pick and a 2016 2nd Round Pick to Toronto for Daniel Winnik

Skinny: Solid upon his arrival, Winnik faltered in the postseason (minus-6).

Rating: C+

March 2: Robert Bortuzzo and a 2016 7th Round Pick to St. Louis for Ian Cole

Skinny: Pens miss Bortuzzo’s toughness, but the shot-blocking Cole emerged as a first-rate penalty killer and top-pairing stalwart.

Rating: A

March 2: Simon Despres to Anaheim for Ben Lovejoy

Skinny: Immensely unpopular trade reaped dividends. Lovejoy was outstanding during the ’16 Cup run. Concussion woes derailed Despres’ once promising career.

Rating: B+

July 1: Scott Harrington, Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, a 2016 1st Round Pick and a 2016 3rd Round Pick to Toronto for Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon and a 2016 2nd Round Pick

Skinny: Summa cum laude of JR deals. At his best on a big stage, Kessel was a driving force behind the Pens’ Cup triumph.

Rating: A

July 28: Brandon Sutter and a 2016 3rd Round Pick to Vancouver for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a 2016 2nd Round Pick

Skinny: Trade was a wash until Bonino wove some HBK magic last spring.

Rating: B+

December 14: Rob Scuderi to Chicago for Trevor Daley

Skinny: Masterpiece involving “The Piece.” Pens’ fortunes began to turn with the mobile Daley’s arrival.

Rating: A

January 15: Adam Clendening and David Perron to Anaheim for Carl Hagelin

Skinny: The speedy Swede completed the Pens’ Stanley Cup puzzle.

Rating: A-

February 27: A 2016 3rd Round Pick to Edmonton for Justin Schultz

Skinny: Supremely skilled, Schultz transformed from bust to boffo for the black and gold.

Rating: A+

February 29: Sergei Plotnikov to Arizona for Matthias Plachta and a 2017 7th Round Pick

Skinny: Housecleaning swap of disappointing Euros.

Rating: B-

November 2: Mike Condon to Ottawa for a 2017 5th Round Pick

Skinny: JR peddled a potential backup for Matt Murray.

Rating: C-


*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    February 16, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    This was a really great idea, grading JRs trades. It is really a timely article. I would agree with most of your assessments. As you know the Despres-Lovejoy trade still sits bad with me, but that is neither here nor there, I can’t argue that it hurt the Pens that much since Lovejoy, I must admit did his share during the Cup run.

    However, my real thoughts after reading your article is this, how would you rate the following non trades;

    Failing to deal MAF in the off-season (or do you think it is too early to tell)?

    JR not making a big splash last year and trading for a big named player rather than under the radar trades?

    To me, sometimes the best trade is no trade. I personally give JR an A for not trading away any more draft picks last year for a rent-a-player that the Pens clearly didn’t need.

    However, even though I was just as indignant as most over Calgary’s 2nd round offer for a starting goalie, I am now a fan of making that move. At the time I would have given JR an A or B over that non-trade, but in hindsight I am of the opinion that non-trade will end up costing the Pens. Hindsight makes me now give that trade D+ or C- at best.

    Last year I was a fan of exactly what JR did no rent-a-players. This year, I am thinking that the Pens may want to at least listen to a rent-a-player offer that gets them out from under MAF’s contract and gives MAF a fresh start as a starter again. Many people are worried that the Pens will need MAF in the Play-offs and that may prove true, but I tend to think that if the Pens need more than 1 Goalie in the play-offs Jarry just may be able to fill in a couple of games until Murray gets back.

  2. February 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    The one thing I really like about Rutherford’s trades is that he doesn’t give up something for a player who is just here for a layover. He builds a foundation rather than temporarily plugging holes.


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