Pittsburgh Penguins: Breaking down Jim Rutherford’s big offseason trade

Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

As the Pittsburgh Penguins being their offseason, Jim Rutherford starts it off big

Hello everyone, I am back, I know there are some things that happened in the Pittsburgh Penguins Universe while I’ve been gone. But I have a full-time job, and life gets in the way at times. While I was expecting a quiet offseason until the Stanley Cup Playoffs wrapped up, general manager Jim Rutherford had other plans, including a big offseason trade to start things off.

Rutherford kicked off his offseason plans a few weeks ago with a trade that kicked off with a tweet, the Monday following SummerSlam, yes I watch WWE don’t judge me.

Kasperi Kapanen has been traded”

This dropped about 10 AM, then we learned Pittsburgh was involved about 30 minutes later, and then it all came together. Here’s a breakdown of what went down between both teams:

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Pittsburgh Penguins Acquired

RW Kasperi Kapanen
D Jesper Lindgren
LW Pontus Aberg

Toronto Maple Leafs Acquired

RW Evan Rodriguez
2020 1st Round Pick (#15 pick)
D Fillip Hallander
D David Warsofsky

Ok, that’s a lot, there’s a good bit to unpack here. On Pittsburgh’s end, they get Kapanen, a definite Middle 6 upgrade. This is especially great since he was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2015 and is a homecoming of sorts.

Now, I got to see Kapanen in the Toronto farm system with the Marlies and he was a part of the glory years of the Marlies squad. Jumping back and forth between the AHL and the NHL for a few years until he got a full-time spot with the Leafs, his first year was a solid 20G and 20A campaign, with this season until the shutdown was 13G and 23A.

Now this to me, a hack who loves hockey, would say the Kapenen would be a Middle 6 forward (2nd and 3rd line) a HUGE upgrade from old man Marleau. Maybe even an upgrade over Conor Sheary, even though I love the Sky Dragon. KK is only 22 (as is Carter Hart) so he has room to grow within the system.

Jesper Lindgren and Pontus Aberg are farm system pieces that will be added to WBS or become trade pieces down the line. Both spent time in the Marlies and I wish I knew more than that, good luck down in WBS, lads.

Now onto to Toronto, that gets Pittsburgh’s 1st round pick at #15, this wasn’t heralded as a deep draft anyway, so ok fine, they can have it. I do wonder however what could have been if by some chance Pittsburgh got #1 overall.

Evan Rodriguez was acquired from Buffalo along with Conor Sheary coming back to the Pens, little was known about Evan as he tried to slip into the team. When the QR started Rodriguez wasn’t even a factor in the series against the Habs, another bust trade from Rutherford, just put him over there by Derek Brassard, Ryan Reaves, and Greg McKegg.

Hallander is an international prospect, so not much data on him. David Warsofsky, an AHL journeyman, spent time in WBS and had 1 really good season which was aided by Tom Kostopoulos, as he could tip shots and clean up rebounds well. This made Warsofsky into an asset when he was traded to Colorado and spent 2 seasons with the Colorado Eagles, then came back to WBS but the scoring touch wasn’t there with Tommy K retired.

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It’s still very early to evaluate this trade but on the surface, it seems Toronto won this deal, with a salary dump and losing 1 key piece in KK. Pittsburgh gave up a 1st round and several depth pieces as this hurt a bit with a barren farm system. One that needs draft picks and depth just to survive in a rather tough Atlantic AHL division. Sure, Hallander and Warsofsky weren’t going to revolutionize the Pittsburgh D but if another injury-plagued season happens, it’s nice to have those pieces.