Penguins Update: Dear Prudence – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: Dear Prudence

The actual title of my article was going to be, Sometimes the Best Trades Are the Ones You Don’t Make. Since it’s a bit long and unwieldy, I figured I’d borrow my title from an old Beatles tune and call it Dear Prudence.

I liked my new title so much I decided to look up prudence in the dictionary. Merriman-Webster defines it as 1) the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; 2) sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs; 3) skill and good judgment in the use of resources, 4) caution or circumspection as to danger or risk.

To my mind, a fairly apt description of how general manager Jim Rutherford has operated since taking over the Penguins. Which brings me back to my original title.

I was thinking specifically about Ian Cole and Carl Hagelin. While I can’t say for sure if either was on the trading block, it’s a pretty good bet they were. Especially Cole, who’s been benched by coach Mike Sullivan on two separate occasions this season and appeared to be a goner until granted a reprieve three weeks ago.

Now look at them. Hagelin, who by all appearances had morphed from ultra-speedy catalyst into a $4 million/year flop, is flying once again. Indeed, since being installed on the portside beside Evgeni Malkin—a move born by desperation (and exasperation)—‘Hags’ is on fire. Over his past 13 games, he’s tallied three goals and 12 points. His plus/minus? A sterling plus-9.

Some of the supersonic Swede’s sudden scoring largess is no doubt attributable to Malkin, who’s channeling his 50-goal form from 2011-12 in classic “Two-Headed Monster” fashion. But Hagelin’s helped ‘Geno’, too.

Cole’s enjoyed an equally stunning resurrection. While nobody can pinpoint precisely why, Ian appeared to run afoul of Sullivan to such an extent that he’d taken up permanent in the fiery skipper’s dog house. Can you say bow wow?

Granted a surprising reprieve after spending three weeks in cold storage, he’s seized the opportunity. Since his return, Cole’s tallied a goal and five points in six games, along with 12 blocked shots and a sparkling plus-seven. That’s a heck of a turnaround.

Back to Rutherford. I confess, I wasn’t thrilled when the Pens hired him to succeed Ray Shero back in 2014. Like a lot of folks who don’t know the man personally, I looked only at his track record during his last few seasons at Carolina, which wasn’t good. Nor was I especially thrilled with his work here during his first year at the helm.

Since then? With precious few exceptions…pure genius.

JR seems to possess an innate feel for which elements are lacking—both on and off the ice—and an uncanny knack of finding guys (correction…the right guys) to fill those voids.  He’s as adept at pulling off breathtaking blockbusters (Phil Kessel) as he is at swinging smaller but equally impactful trades, often without costing the team much in return. His in-season acquisitions of Riley Sheahan and Jamie Oleksiak are prime examples.

He also has an excellent sense of when to move guys (Eric Fehr and Scott Wilson) and when to give them some extra rope (Cole and Hagelin). In other words, he knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Prudence in action.

Here in the ‘Burgh, we used to say, “In Ray We Trust.” How about, “In JR We Trust.”

With the trade deadline looming, the Pens are in good hands.


The Penguins lost a shootout to the Stars last night in Dallas, 4-3, in the front end of a father-son road trip. They maintain a hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Hagelin, Sheahan and Justin Schultz scored for the black and gold. It was Schultz’ third goal of the season and first since November 7. Matt Murray made 33 saves in regulation and overtime.

Malkin extended his point-scoring streak to six games. Geno’s collected 14 points during that span, including nine goals. On the flip side, Sidney Crosby is now goalless in 10 games. Sid, who remains stuck on 399 for his career, last tickled the twine against the Rangers on January 14.

The Pens wrap up the road trip on Sunday with a matinee game in St. Louis.

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

Shop.NHL.com Outlet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


  1. pens4ever's Gravatar pens4ever
    February 10, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    there is nothing wrong with a difference if opion but there us no need to attack any one here we are all Pen’s fans!!!
    I love Reaves.. others don’t, I hate Letang but that is my opion. The game was fun to watch and got a point. Blues up next

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 10, 2018 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      I agree, Pens4ever.

      I keep going back and forth on Reaves. There are some games when he’s a real force. It’s just that those games seem few and far between.

      He doesn’t get a ton of playing time, and that certainly doesn’t help. And…as I opined below…I don’t think he, Rowney and Kuhnhackl are a very good fit as a unit. They say styles make fights, and they also contribute to the success (or failure) of a line.


      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        February 11, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        I still would rather have had the chance to draft Hague, however, I have come to respect Reaves.

        Letang, well, as a person I like him. As a player, he is limited. He requires a very special defensive pairing. He is nowhere near a Coffey, Murphy, Gonchar type D man. He doesn’t elevate the players around him and requires someone to cover for his liabilities.

        Also, I forgot to mention below, that I agree with 55 on Point, Rust is really becoming an invaluable member of this team. His no puck play on Sheahan’s goal last game was an incredibly display of hockey sense, pulling up short of the net, to give Sheahan room to work around the crease.

        And I still would rather see the Pens get a more offensive 3rd line Center, but Sheahan display some pretty good moves on that last goal he scored.

  2. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    February 10, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    In the case of Ian Cole, I don’t know anyone outside of the Penguins org that wanted to see Cole traded. In fact people I know would advocate that the Penguins at least listen to what it would take to resign Cole at the end of the season. Chances are someone will be willing to throw a ridiculous amount of money at him, more than the Penguins could afford and still be competitive, but you never know. It never hurts to ask.

    In the case of Hagelin, I must admit, I would have been willing to deal him for the right price.

    After watching the Pens last night, I am absolutely disappointed in NHL officials and embarrassed by our team.

    Literally watching (catching on video) a referee seeing Crosby get crosschecked in the head with no call and watching maybe the same ref or possibly the other stand mutely, in full view of a Star holding on to Kessel’s stick while Phil desperately yanked to get his stick back, apparently waiting to see if Kessel would slash or rough the Star, so the clown in stripes could give an even up call and not put the team breaking the rules in a bad position, thus penalizing the team playing by the rules.

    However, since the referees have always been at best pathetic, willing accomplices of thug hockey, I am not surprised by what I saw.

    In the case of our Penguins, I am sorry, but if I got manhandled by a team that didn’t get back in town until 3 in the morning (meaning that they didn’t get that much sleep, coming at the back end of a back-to-back series), as badly as Dallas mauled the Penguins (out hitting them 40 – 26), causing many of the players to shy away from the puck to avoid hits, in front of my father, like the Pens did, my father would have come out of the audience, on to the ice, and beat the living stew out of me, for folding like a house of cards.

  3. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    February 10, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey all,

    In light of a recent incident, I feel a need to make a statement concerning PenguinPoop.

    First of all, I consider us to be truly blessed to have such a knowledgeable and passionate group of readers, commenters and followers. We wouldn’t exist without your faithfulness and support, and I think I speak for my fellow writers when I say we’re amazed at times by the depth and thought that goes into the comments we receive.

    Our goal is to provide a place where Penguins fans can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings about the team, popular or otherwise, without fear that they might be ridiculed or put down in any way. Founding fathers such as Phil Krundle set the tone, and I’m pleased to say, for the most part, we’ve been able to uphold that standard.

    We’re all deeply passionate about our Penguins. It’s only natural there will be differences of opinion…sometimes strong ones. That’s healthy…it helps provide a broader perspective than we might otherwise have on our own. We just ask that when you disagree with someone, that you do it in a way that’s respectful to the other person.

    We’re all human, and sometimes emotions can get the better of us, especially if it’s an issue we’re particularly passionate about. I have my hot-button topics…I’m sure we all do. Again, we just ask that you be respectful of the other person when you respond.

    There’s simply no place on PenguinPoop for personal attacks and putdowns, and they won’t be tolerated.


    • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
      February 10, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Hi Rick,

      And that’s why this is my favorite Penguins blog. Lots of hockey smarts around these parts! And lots of cordiality. I think you guys should get the gig coaching the Pens if they ever decide to farm it out to independent contractors.

      Okay, now that I’m done sucking up 😉… It was a scant two months ago I was in favor of jettisoning Hagelin, if anyone would take that $4 mil hit. I, too, think he probably was being considered as a trade candidate. As is typical of my track record, he has proven me a reactionary, and thankful, for the moment at least, for your aforementioned prudence. He’s on fire and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He’s, no doubt, been a bit of a catalyst for Malkin, too, and vice-versa. It’s a shame Hornqvist went down again. That line has been killer.

      Sheahan seems to be heating up, too. Curious as to what his ceiling is. Have we seen as good as he can give? Oh, and kudos to Rust, too. To me, he’s become indispensable.

      I’m still okay with Reaves, too. He’s been getting more ice time and he’s shown some hockey sense like I saw from him with the Blues. He’s been good in tight spaces, been on the puck, and he’s been moving the puck well. He is a decent passer. Still gets lost once in a while, and I sometimes get the sense that he’s thinking too much about whether or not to deliver a hit. Against Dallas last night it seemed like he put on the brakes a bit. That was unfortunate. Sid and Malkin could have used some help. If there was a game recently where they needed to take the body, last night was it. If they had, I believe they’d have come away with two. But, anyway, he’s contributing.

      Is it just me, or has Sid gone back into a bit of a funk since Sprong ran afoul of Sullivan? It certainly has that feel to me. Maybe looking for 400 has him a little tight. He’s still a monster down low, but continued success depends on his scoring prowess.

      The defense still worries me. It has been better with the addition of Oleksiak, and Cole’s (necessary) pardon — temporary I’d assume, but hope otherwise. I’m curious to see how the Hunwick/Cole thing works out. I don’t see how they can justify Hunwick for Cole, but then, I haven’t seen that as being justified all year. I’m hoping some prudence intervenes in this situation, too, and they hold on to Cole for the remainder of the season (unless presented with a to-good-to-be-true offer). I’d still like to believe they’d resign him, but that’s not going to happen.


      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        February 10, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        I must have been Typing while you were 55 on Point.

        In my rant above I should have qualified it by excluding certain players like Reaves who went to stand up for Malkin and Oleksiak who was a one man wrecking crew with 8 hits.

        • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
          February 10, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Hey tOR,

          Good mention, re: our guys trying to avoid being hit and missing a play as a result. I saw Malkin flinch, or try to skate around the guy, a couple times. Yes, it was embarrassing. We let them get away with one.

          I don’t mention officiating anymore. I’m too old. It raises my blood pressure. It will never change until seats are empty.


      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        February 10, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        Hey 55,

        Thank you for your support and your kind words. I always look forward to your comments.

        As usual, I agree with your thoughts pretty much right down the line. At times I’ve felt squarely in the minority, but I liked the Sheahan trade and feel it’s worked out fairly well. In terms of his upside…that’s a really good question. He put up decent numbers his first three seasons with Detroit (36 goals and 85 points in 202 games…roughly a 35-point pace for a full season). That’s right about where he’s tracking thus far with the Pens. Given his size, faceoff ability and other intangibles, I’m pleased with him. And we aren’t shelling out top dollar for his services.

        If we could land Cullen (or a Cullen-type) to anchor the fourth line, I’d be okay with us at center. Provided, of course, Sid or Geno don’t go down (shudder).

        Speaking of Sid, you may be right about him missing Sprong. The “Triple S Line” (Simon-Sid-Sprong) definitely displayed some chemistry, although I ‘heard’ in a grape-viney sort of way that Sullivan wasn’t real enamored of Sprong. I’d be tempted to put Crosby back with Guentzel and Sheary, but neither of those guys is very good in the d-zone, which forces Sid to do all the heavy lifting. Honestly, I’m not sure what to do. But you sure don’t want Sid to languish.

        I’ve been back and forth on Reaves all season. Obviously, I like his toughness and attitude, and sometimes he’ll show flashes like he did the other night against Vegas where he looks like the player I thought we were getting. Some of it may be a matter of chemistry—to my eye–he, Rowney and Kuhnhackl have zip, nada, none. I like Rowney on wing but not at center, where he’s been playing. We definitely need an upgrade there.

        I think we all feel pretty much the same way about Cole-Hunwick. Haven’t seen too many pleas in support of the latter. A rare Rutherford bungle.

        Love Rust, too. If we could clone him and sprinkle two or three more throughout the lineup, I’d be happy.



Follow PenguinPoop

Shop.NHL.com Outlet

PenguinPoop Unique Visitors