The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Erik Gudbranson to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Andreas Martinsen and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick, the Penguins announced Friday.
On paper, this appears to be a salary dump for the Penguins who sent Gudbranson to a Ducks team looking for defensive depth after Josh Manson was seen on crutches following Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Stars.
This marks the third time that Gudbranson has been on the move since 2016 when he was originally sent to the Vancouver Canucks for Jared McCann.
The newly-acquired Ducks’ defender is now set to join his fourth team in five seasons.
Ducks Get Depth, Penguins Get Cap Space
This trade is a weird one for Anaheim all the same given the fact that Gudbranson is seen as a below-average defender who may be more of a liability than a benefit to their defensive group.
That said, the cost to acquire him was as low as it could have been with Martinsen reporting to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and a seventh-round pick in two years being as low a return as possible.
For the Penguins, this deal still makes a lot of sense. Shedding the salary of Gudbranson – who is set to earn $4 million through the end of the 2020-21 season, is just logical.
Originally acquired for Tanner Pearson last season, Gudbranson has found himself sitting out fairly regularly for the Penguins this season with Josh Marino taking his spot in the team’s lineup. A healthy scratch in four of 11 games this season so far for the Penguins, the 27-year-old Gudbranson simply never found his footing with the Penguins.
Including the postseason, he’d play only 30 games with the Penguins since being acquired last February, being held to just two assists in 26 games in the regular season and one goal in four postseason games. The offense has never been a major part of Gudbranson’s game but defensively he hasn’t been stout since being selected third overall in 2010 either.
Related: Penguins Defense Generating Offense
Unfortunately, not every prospect pans out. For Gudbranson, it’s very unlikely he’ll ever live up to his draft status and be anything more than a big, heavy-hitting player who can fill a spot in a lineup.
The Ducks have undoubtedly done their due-diligence on Gudbranson and with Manson’s injury, they simply needed to find a body capable of playing. While it isn’t ideal to pay a player like Gudbranson $4 million for the remainder of this season and the entirety of the 2020-21 season, they clearly felt the need to act fast.
Penguins and Ducks Treading Water Early On
Both the Penguins and the Ducks hold 6-5 records through their first 11 games this season with the Ducks posting an impressive 4-1 record at home to start the season and a poor 2-4 record on the road with a plus-one scoring differential.
Still, this start to the season may still be one to be encouraged by for Ducks’ fans.
The Penguins have been average both at home and on the road record-wise with a 4-3 home record and 2-2 road record. They’ve recorded a plus-six goal-differential in their first 11 games.
It’s important to note that the Penguins have also been dealing with injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust (long-term injured reserve) as well as Alex Galchenyuk, Brian Dumoulin and Nick Bjugstad (injured reserve) already this season.