During Jim Rutherford’s media availability celebrating his three-year extension deal, he ever-so-casually dropped a huge bomb regarding a trade. Reporters joked that he could just tell us all now, but Rutherford explained that because of the move’s alleged complexity, it was still in the holding period awaiting league-approval.
Just minutes later, that approval came through, with the news that Pearson is Pittsburgh bound, straight-up, for Carl Hagelin.
Hagelin for Pearson. One for one. Done deal.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) November 14, 2018
Pearson, 26, is a left winger, a position the Penguins have immense need in after trading Conor Sheary away over the summer. While Jake Guentzel has done well, Carl Hagelin has struggled to score while playing almost exclusively with Evgeni Malkin in the first 16 games of the season. Hagelin only scored one goal and added just two assists this season despite playing on a line with two of the highest scorers in the league with Malkin and Phil Kessel.
Pearson is a good middle-six guy, and should offer some scoring, even though he doesn’t have a single goal in 17 games so far (that could be attributed to not having a decent centerman, though). He has 36, 44, and 40 points in the last three seasons, including 24 goals in the 2016-17 season. Pearson has this season and two more with a salary cap hit of $3.75 million. The Penguins were able to fit him because Hagelin has an average salary of $4.0 million. They’ll retain 6.25 percent of his contract, which equates to about $250,000.
From our friends at Jewels From The Crown:
“Pearson has really good foot speed. He’s a smart, two-way player, doesn’t usually take too many dumb penalties, and really connected best with Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter. He struggled when he wasn’t on their line because he simply didn't mesh with other guys. He needs a really intelligent center who can drive the center of the ice. That’s the key. Get to the center, Pearson will be there for rebounds and assists.
He’s also pretty speedy. He’s obviously not Connor McDavid, but he’s negated more than a few icings using his speed — when he’s been allowed to use it, that is. Sutter, Stevens, and so far Desjardins didn’t seem to know what to do with him. He just needs to be set free. Let him roam up and down the wing and use his speed to do make things happen. In L.A., he was handcuffed and put with less-than talented players, then complained about when he didn’t perform well. He’s been playing with Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford, of course he hasn’t. To sum up, Pearson has a lot of upside when a coach knows how to utilize his strengths.
For the Kings, they have the worst record in the NHL right now at 5-11-1, and have already fired their coach earlier this month. Obviously they’re in desperate need of switching things up to go in a new direction, and this deal figures to set them on a new course. Hagelin only has one year left on his contract and could create flexibility for them moving forward if they elect not to re-sign him.