Tag: Vancouver Canucks

Jim Rutherford

For Pens, Tuesday’s moves were all about depth and finances up front


Following a busy day in which he flipped Brandon Sutter to Vancouver for Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening, then signed ex-Capital Eric Fehr, Pens GM Jim Rutherford explained how those moves met two of his biggest objectives.

“The two deals went hand-in-hand so we can add more depth,” Rutherford said. “We have enough good players now that guys are going to have to compete for those spots [in training camp] and compete for them all year.”

He then addressed the money issue.

“When you look at the structure of our salaries and our cap, it’s important to get those bottom-six cap hits in better shape,” Rutherford explained. “That’s what we were able to do with these two deals.”

It’s not surprising that depth and finances were two of Pittsburgh’s biggest offseason priorities. Money allotment has been an issue — Sutter, a pending UFA potentially in line for a raise, was making $3.3 million while playing what amounted to a third-line center role.

Combined, Bonino and Fehr are a $3.9M cap hit.

(Lest we forget that, in the Phil Kessel trade earlier this month, Rutherford dealt away another relatively expensive third-liner in Nick Spaling, who makes $2.2M annually.)

Earlier, veteran depth guys Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Daniel Winnik and Craig Adams were allowed to walk in free agency, giving likes of Beau Bennett ($800K), KHLer Sergei Plotnikov ($925K), Swedish prospect Oskar Sundqvist ($700K) and Czech Leaguer Dominik Simon ($692K) a chance to get into the rotation.

So that’s the financial side.

In terms of depth up front, Pittsburgh seems far better suited to deal with injuries — something that, you may remember, was a recurring issue in ’14-15. Kessel gives the club a bonafide scoring winger to play alongside either Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while Fehr and Bonino, both natural centers, provide nice depth down the middle.

Fehr could even bounce outside if need be.

“Eric is definitely comfortable as a two-positional player,” Rutherford said. “He could possibly jump up into the top six, if that situation presented itself, but he’s coming off of a year where he played center.”

Pascal Dupuis is expected to return after playing just 16 games last year, and the club will get a full season of David Perron, acquired from Edmonton in January. Add it all up, and it’s easy to see why Rutherford is so pleased with Pittsburgh’s new-look forward group — it’s deeper, with a more sensible financial structure.

“If a guy falls off, there’s a guy waiting to jump right in there,” he explained. “I like the fact that we have enough guys that each guy can push each other.

“I like our depth at forward now.”

Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game One

The Vancouver Canucks have big plans for Brandon Sutter.

“Acquiring Brandon Sutter, to me he’s a foundation piece for our group going forward,” GM Jim Benning said today after sending Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening to Pittsburgh in a trade.

“He can play a good two-way game. He brings us speed. He goes to the net hard. I thought in the playoffs for Pittsburgh last year, he was really good. He’s a playoff player. When the games mean something, that’s when he’s at his best.”

Benning hopes to work with Sutter’s agent over the next few days to get a contract extension hammered out. The 26-year-old center is a pending unrestricted free agent.

The addition of Sutter, who figures to slot in below Henrik Sedin as Vancouver’s second-line center, will also give 20-year-old Bo Horvat more time to develop.

“Bo Horvat, the last half the year, played really well for us,” said Benning. “We don’t want to put pressure on him to be somewhere in the lineup that he can’t handle it going forward. We want to make sure that he keeps developing as a player.

“Brandon’s a proven NHL player, match-up player. He’s played against the other teams’ top players and shut them down. And he can still bring offense to our team.”

Related: Hamhuis, Vrbata will not sign extensions this summer

Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting

Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets

Via TSN.ca’s Travis Yost, here’s a chart showing draft success (or lack thereof) for all 30 NHL teams:


A team that’s done well at drafting will be in the top right. A team that hasn’t will be in the bottom left.

To be considered a “successful” draft pick, Yost determined that the player would have to play 100 games in the NHL. He adds that sorting by other metrics, like points or time on ice, yields “similar results.”

Yost was focusing on the New Jersey Devils’ lack of success in the draft; hence, the bold.

Now, obviously, a team like Columbus (which the chart shows has done well at drafting) is going to have an advantage in the first three rounds over a team like Vancouver (which hasn’t), since the Blue Jackets had much higher picks than the Canucks enjoyed from 2000-2012.

In fact, the Jackets had 11 top-10 picks over those 13 years, including Rick Nash going first overall, along with notable busts Gilbert Brule, Nikita Filatov, and Alexandre Picard. The Canucks, meanwhile, never drafted higher than 10th.

Of course, that doesn’t excuse Vancouver’s inability to find players in the later rounds. The last “successful” players the Canucks took after the third round were Mike Brown, who was a fifth-round pick back in 2004, and Jannik Hansen, who went in the ninth round that same year.

In contrast, the New York Rangers have been extremely successful in those later rounds, having identified the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Callahan, and Carl Hagelin as worthwhile gambles.

Penguins sign Fehr to three-year, $6 million contract


The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed free-agent center Eric Fehr to a three-year, $6 million contract, the club announced today.

From the press release:

Fehr, 29, has played most of his 10-year NHL career with the Washington Capitals. He posted 19 goals, 33 points and a plus-8 in the 2014-15 campaign with Washington. His goal total was the second-highest mark of his career.

The 6-foot-4, 212-pound center was a key member of the Capitals’ penalty kill unit in ’14-15, logging 1:23 shorthanded minutes per game. The defensively reliable center won a career-high 52 percent of his faceoffs.

Fehr underwent elbow surgery June 3 and faces a recovery time of 4-6 months.

The addition of Fehr — combined with the trade of Brandon Sutter to Vancouver for Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening — gives Pittsburgh two new centers to support Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded center Brandon Sutter and a third-round draft pick to Vancouver for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a second-round pick.

Sutter had 21 goals and 12 assists for the Pens last season. The 26-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of $3.3 million.

Bonino had 15 goals and 24 assists for Vancouver. The 27-year-old has two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $1.9 million.

Clendening is an offensive defenseman who’s put up good numbers in the AHL, but has played just 21 NHL games for Chicago and Vancouver. The 22-year-old was traded to the Canucks in January.

The Penguins also announced today that they’d signed center Eric Fehr to a three-year deal.