The Time Is Now: Trade Rob Scuderi


The Pittsburgh Penguins have a plethora of defensive talent waiting for the chance to play at the NHL level. Last season provided a glimpse of what the future could hold on the Penguins blueline with Philip Samuelsson, Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin all seeing time at the NHL level because of injuries. This season we saw Samuelsson traded to Arizona for Klinkhammer and a fifth round pick, which was not a great trade. However, I will not dwell upon this mistake again. For much of this season we have watch Dumoulin, Harrington and Derrick Pouliot hold down the blueline while other defenders like Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Kris Letang and Robert Bortuzzo have been injured. 

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After this season ends, Martin, Ehrhoff and Bortuzzo will all be free agents (Martin/Ehrhoff are unrestricted while Bortuzzo is restricted). Further down the road at the end of the 2015-2016 season Simon Despres and young star Olli Maatta will both be in line for significant raises. Kris Letang is going to be a fixture on the Pittsburgh Penguins as his contract will note expire for another seven seasons. Also it has been rumored that Ehrhoff will sign an extension shortly to remain in Pittsburgh. Paul Martin is also on his way out, there is no way the Penguins can retain him given his age, cap hit and durability issues.

The unfortunate truth is that Harrington, Dumoulin and Pouliot will all continue to age regardless of whether they play at the NHL level or not. Brian Dumoulin has had a controversial stretch for the Penguins this season but overall his play has been encouraging. He is the oldest of the trio at 23 years old.

May 13, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) shoots the puck against the New York Rangers during the second period in game seven of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Rangers won 2-1 and took the series 4 games to 3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So moving forward (assuming Ehrhoff is extended) the blueline next season will have Maatta, Ehrhoff, Letang, Despres, Bortuzzo and Rob Scuderi. If there is one thing Maatta has shown during his tenure with the Penguins is that young defenders can thrive at the NHL level when given a chance. People often forget that Maatta’s play was uneven for the first few months playing at the NHL level and at times we questioned why he was playing for the Penguins, but ownership stayed the course and have been rewarded. Those starting six defenders still does not allow any of the three defensive prospects to play at the NHL level.

The odd man out is Rob Scuderi. Former GM Ray Shero signed Scuderi to a four year deal before the start of last season. In his first year back with the Penguins, Rob Scuderi was awful, there is no way to sugarcoat it. This season Rob Scuderi (somehow) has found a way to play acceptably in Mike Johnston’s up-tempo puck possession system.

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So now is the time to try and trade the 35 year old defender. Not only is Rob Scuderi at times a defensive liability, he has slowed down drastically and has never been a point producer. He is signed until the end of the 2016-2017 season with an annual cap hit of $3.375 million. With his rebound it might finally be the time to trade Rob Scuderi and get him off of the Penguins salary cap. With the mentioned young defenders all going to be looking for significant raises and a star studded forward lineup the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to free up money somehow or risk losing their young talent.

Personally, I’d roll with young defenders who might have some growing pains over an aging and unproductive defender who is taking up valuable cap space. Rob Scuderi if traded might not return anything significant but his departure frees up cap space, roster space and improves the fit of the defensive corps for Johnston’s system.

Make it happen Jim Rutherford.