Jim Rutherford did not take long to make dramatic impacts to the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was hired in the off-season. With the trade of James Neal to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling and signing the likes of Christian Ehrhoff, Blake Comeau, Thomas Greiss, and Steve Downie, to name a few; Rutherford completely overhauled the Penguins previous roster.
Rutherford’s Recent Additions
As of recent months, Rutherford has continued to solidify the Penguins’ new identity. On January 2nd, Rutherford added skilled winger David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and this year’s first-round draft pick. Perron, since arriving in Pittsburgh, has nine points (5G, 4A) in nine games.
Less than two weeks later, Mark Arcobello, former teammate of Perron in Edmonton, was picked up off of waivers from the Nashville Predators. Arcobello has been slotted in the bottom six forwards and provided speed and grit for the team thus far.
Last night, Marcel Goc had a limited time to celebrate the Penguins’ 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in their first game back from the All-Star Game. Goc was traded to St. Louis in exchange for Maxim Lapierre, a rugged fourth-liner that will add more speed and grit to the bottom six for the Penguins.
More To Come?
With the most recent acquisition of Lapierre, it begs the question: Do the Penguins need to make any more moves? From a fans perspective, there is no such thing as too many moves. Pittsburgh fans are always eager to see who is available, what the rumors are surrounding certain players, and who is on waivers as a potential steal like Craig Adams was in 2009.
The former Blues forward gave the Penguins fits in the 2010 Playoffs playing for the Montreal Canadiens, getting under the skin of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal, again just to name a few. He played his role perfectly during that series that was eventually won by the Canadiens.
Lapierre adds a playoff mentality to the Penguins’ fourth line, meaning he will be physical, hard to play against, and agitate the opposition. Arcobello brings a bit more skill than Lapierre, however, has not contributed offensively as much as expected so far. Perron has been better than expected and has revitalized his career in a short period of time.
As the calendar draws nearer to the March 2nd Trade Deadline, rumors will begin to run rampant, especially for Cup contending teams. The Penguins have been one of the more active teams this season, does that continue leading up to March 2nd?
Entering the contest against the Jets, the Penguins returned Kris Letang and Hornqvist to the lineup, two huge additions. Comeau is close to returning and Crosby, although he missed the All-Star Game with a lower-body injury, is also close to returning to the Penguins’ lineup. Evgeni Malkin is on injured reserve and Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta are injured long-term. All in all, believe it or not, the Penguins are slowly returning to early season form.
Malkin will be back within in a couple of weeks, at most. Once Malkin and Comeau are back in the lineup, the Penguins will have four solid lines filled with skill, grit, scoring, and speed.
Do the Penguins need to make another trade? Do they need to add a defenseman despite the strong play of Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Scott Harrington, and Derrick Pouliot? Do they need to add more depth at the forward position even with Hornqvist and Blake Comeau returning and getting healthier, respectively?
Many will argue yes, I will play devil’s advocate. It may be wishful thinking, but as long as Marc-Andre Fleury can play well in net, I see no reason to tinker with a squad that could make a serious push in the playoffs this season.