There likely won’t be a more wild trade before the deadline than the one that took the better part of Friday to finally be completed.
Penguins defenseman Ian Cole was headed to a bad team, then he wasn’t, and then he was again.
And somehow Ryan Reaves is now with the Vegas Golden Knights and the NHL’s newest team is retaining a bunch of salary.
This deal was rejected by the NHL for “improper use of salary retention,” so it was back to the drawing board for all involved.
The second (and actual) trade: Penguins receive Derick Brassard; Senators get a first-round pick, Ian Cole and intriguing goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson. This didn’t change.
Penguins also acquire a 2018 third round draft pick and prospect forward Vincent Dunn from the Senators; and they also get prospect forward Tobias Lindberg from the Golden Knights.
Vegas receives Ryan Reaves and a 2018 fourth-rounder (Vancouver’s) from the Penguins and also retains 40 percent of Brassard’s salary.
Why the Penguins made the trade: It’s been no secret that the Penguins have been looking for center help since losing Matt Cullen and Nick Bonino. Brassard fits that bill, and honestly, stands as a nice upgrade.
At 30, Brassard is still at or near his prime. The Penguins get Brassard for two playoff runs, as his $5 million cap hit runs through 2018-19.
Brassard’s quietly enjoyed a strong season in Ottawa, as he has 18 goals and 38 points in 58 games. He’s just one point shy of tying his 2016-17 total, even though that came in 81 contests. The former Rangers forward is battle-tested in the postseason, too.
Derick Brassard has 55 points on 22 goals and 33 assists in 78 career playoff games. He has scored 4 game-winning goals. He has played into the Conference Final three times, once into the Cup Final.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 23, 2018
No doubt about it, this is a contending team being aggressive to try to win a third straight Stanley Cup. Brassard makes an already-impressive offense that much deeper.
Here’s the problem for the rest of the NHL:
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) February 23, 2018
The inclusion of Cole helps make the money work for the Penguins, even if it’s worth noting that Pittsburgh still has some questions on defense.
Why the Senators made the trade: The Senators are in liquidation mode, and to start, this trade helps Ottawa get a first-rounder back after giving one up in the Matt Duchene trade. Granted, the Penguins’ first-rounder could be very low – they’d love it to be the 31st selection – but it’s a key return for the rebuilding Sens.
Gustavsson, 19, isn’t just a throw-in, either. He was a second-round pick (55th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. With Craig Anderson already 36, the Senators need to look to the future, and Gustavsson has a chance to be a part of the picture in net.
Filip Gustavsson led Sweden to a silver medal at the World Junior last month, and was named the tournament’s top goalie with a 1.81 GAA and a .924 save % in 6 games. #Sens
— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) February 23, 2018
You can argue that Ottawa’s returns aren’t fully documented yet, as they might move Cole for even more futures:
And needless to say, plan is for Ottawa to flip pending UFA Ian Cole before Monday's trade deadline
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 23, 2018
This is also worth noting from a Senators perspective:
With what might still be on the horizon, not retaining any of Brassard’s salary is worth noting (Vegas is on the hook for 40%). Teams are only allowed to retain the salaries of 3 players in any given season. The Sens have already done it once (Phaneuf).
— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) February 24, 2018
Why the Golden Knights made this trade:
This one deserves a¯_(ツ)_/¯.
Vegas gets some grit in Reaves and a pick, but get roped into 40 percent of Brassard’s salary for some reason or another.
Who won the trade?
Senators fans are unlikely to be happy with the team cleaning house, particularly with players who helped them make a deep playoff run remarkably recently. Still, they’re diving in with a reset, if not a rebuild, and this is a decent return. Getting a bit more for Cole could help, and Gustavsson’s development will play a significant role in how this move is viewed in hindsight.
The Penguins are going for it, as they have been for some time. Brassard fills a serious need, and while defense is an issue for Pittsburgh, Cole found himself as a healthy scratch and obviously on the way out at times.
This is all about the present for Pittsburgh, and it’s easy to justify such a thought process. Let’s not forget that Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Phil Kessel are 30 while Evgeni Malkin is 31. You never know when the championship window might slam shut.
Since Jan. 5, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are 15-3-1, the best record in the NHL in terms of point percentage (.815). Evgeni Malkin (32 points) and Sidney Crosby (30) are Nos. 1 and 2 in scoring. Yeah, you go for it aggressively.
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) February 23, 2018
Your excitement regarding the Penguins’ side hinges on how much you like Brassard. Not everyone is blown away by what he brings to the table.
Brassard's having a good year, but he normally scores at roughly a league-average rate for forwards at 5-on-5 pic.twitter.com/yCIpzPUz8M
— Rob Vollman (@robvollmanNHL) February 23, 2018
This is an obvious case of two teams going in different directions, and thus looking for very different returns. Which team got the best value out of the deal, though?
It’s worth noting that the Penguins gave up a first-round pick and a prospect last summer to get Reaves.
With files from Scott Billeck