The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired forward Andreas Martinsen and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Erik Gudbranson, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Martinsen, 29, is signed through the end of the 2019-20 season and carries an average annual value of $750,000 at the NHL level. He will report to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.
This season, Martinsen has played one game for the San Diego Gulls in the AHL.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound forward has played 152 career NHL games split between the Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks. Over the course of five NHL seasons, Martinsen has recorded nine goals, 14 assists, 23 points and 110 penalty minutes.
Gudbranson was acquired earlier in 2019 when the Pens had a lot of defensive injuries. He performed pretty well on the third pair, but lacked a lot of skating mobility or puck skills, two very important traits in the modern day NHL game.
However that strong play in 2018-19 didn’t carryover into this season and Gudbranson’s limited ability shone through on most nights. Due to the emergence of rookie John Marino, Gudbranson was often a healthy scratch in recent games, until an injury to Brian Dumoulin opened up a spot in the lineup.
For Pittsburgh, this is nothing but a salary dump. Gudbranson was carrying a salary cap hit of $4.0 million for this season and next, and not justifying it with his play on the ice, even in the best of times. The team needed some financial flexibility and reportedly have been attempting to trade Jack Johnson as well. Johnson, though, is older and has two years longer on his contract, which has made him a difficult player to move to this point.
In the end, the Penguins at least clean up some salary and a mistake by getting out of the Gudbranson cap hit entirely. But the mistake was a wholly self-inflicted one in the first place. Gudbranson was never truly a necessary piece to acquire or anything more than a short-sighted fix to a temporary problem of injuries on the defensive depth chart. He was a bad player on an even worse contract, and dealing with that was bound to be an issue.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, the Ducks are in tough shape. Josh Manson is now hurt. Earlier in the week the team signed Luca Sbisa, but as an in-season signing he needed to clear waivers before he could play for them. Winnipeg claimed Sbisa, neutralizing Anaheim’s move there. So that they would be looking for a defender would be a natural, even though it’s difficult to see what Gudbranson can actually contribute for them. Alas, that’s now their issue.
Gudbranson will leave the Pens and a checkered legacy behind. He was acquired for Tanner Pearson, himself traded for Carl Hagelin. Hagelin represented the speed and tenacity that won two Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, with Gudbranson’s size and physical nature being an ill-fitting and ineffective throwback to a different era.