Instead of Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins signed Steve Sullivan. It surely wasn’t as sexy a deal as bringing back #68 would have been. It’s wasn’t an even exchange based on overall skill set or on career point totals. But when the Jagr deal fell through, Pens GM Ray Shero quickly went with Plan B – a seasoned vet with 266 career goals and a Bill Masterton trophy as proof of his dedication to the game.
Sullivan had a good run with Chicago from 1999-2004, but that was admittedly a good while ago. More importantly, it was before he suffered a devastating back injury that forced him to miss the entire 2007-08 season. To be fair, injuries have seriously hampered Sullivan the past three seasons in Nashville. He played a full 82-game campaign in 09-10, but appeared in only 41 games the season prior and in only 44 last year. But Sullivan has 38 goals over those 167 games, which isn’t that bad. (About 19 per 82-game season.)
Heck, let’s think positively here. Sullivan brings a boatload of experience (890 games) and an undeniable nose for the net. He’s a natural winger that adds speed to the lineup. Another thing to consider – his success on the power play. Of his 100 goals with the Predators, 37 of them came with the man advantage. But – as is usually the case for a 37-year-old vet – the wild card is his health.
Shero knows Sullivan well from their time together in Nashville. The Pens GM is obviously confident that he can help this team this year. Where will he play? My guess would be alongside Evgeni Malkin on the second line. Again, I’m not suggesting Sullivan is as good as Jagr. He could, however, end up being a better fit in the Pens lineup. (He could also end up being another Mike Comrie, but we’re thinking positively, remember?) For one year at $1.5 million it’s worth a shot.