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Ranking every 2019-20 Pittsburgh Penguins addition from most impactful to least impactful

It has been another busy year for general manager Jim Rutherford, but which one of his additions has made the biggest impact for the 2019-20 Pittsburgh Penguins?

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford loves to do, it is reshape the look of his hockey team.

The 2019-20 season season has been another busy one for Trader Jim, and it may have been one of his more successful ones from a player personnel standpoint. At the very least, he certainly redeemed himself from an off year for the 2018-19 season.

Since the start of the offseason Rutherford has made several significant changes to the roster, and today we are going to rank those changes from the most impactful to the least impactful.

Let’s go!

Still Making An Impact

  1. John Marino. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but this has the POTENTIAL to be one of Rutherford’s best trades. At least when it comes to comparing the value added and the value given up. That of course assumes that Marino continues to follow his current trajectory.

Acquired for the laughably low cost of a conditional sixth-round draft pick, Marino has rapidly developed into one of the Penguins’ best defenders, has been one of the top overall defenders in the league (rookie or veteran) in terms of his defensive impact, and is a steal against the salary cap through next season.

2. Brandon Tanev. I absolutely HATED this signing in the summer, mostly because I thought it was a significant overpay for a fourth-liner. But as Smooth Jimmy Apollo once said, when you are right 52 percent of the time you are wrong 48 percent of the time. Maybe Tanev’s contract still turns into an issue in a couple of years, but I am happy to say he has been a remarkably better hockey player than I anticipated him being. He has helped form one of the league’s best shutdown defensive lines, has been an outstanding penalty killer, and has even chipped in some big goals offensively. He fits the style of play. He has helped bring some much needed speed to the lineup. He is good. Really good.

3. Jason Zucker. If he had been here from the start of the season I would probably move him up a spot, but given that he has only played 15 games for the Penguins at this point I think this is a fair ranking. He is a better and more impactful player than Tanev ... but we are talking 15 game vs. 70 games in terms of overall impact. That has to count for something I think. Having said that, Zucker looks like he will be a perfect complement to Sidney Crosby on the top line for years to come. They also did not pay all that significant of a price. The first-round pick is lottery protected (which has turned out to be VERY significant), and while Cale Addison looks like a really good prospect, Zucker still has several years on his contract and could help bring another championship. You make that trade every single time.

4. Patrick Marleau. I was not sure what to expect of Marleau when he arrived but I will say this for him — he can still skate. In terms of offensive production he was mostly quiet in his first eight games, but I liked what I saw from with his first impression. I could see him scoring a big goal in a big moment in a playoff game.

5. Conor Sheary. Maybe the most controversial of the trade deadline acquisitions, but I really liked it. Sheary was always a good player for the Penguins, a good fit for the style of play, and they never really wanted to get rid of him in the first place. I think he has more value than just as a sidecar to Crosby and helps bring the type of depth you always want to have for a lengthy playoff run. Like Marleau it is still a very limited sampling of games at this point, but I like what he brings.

6. Evan Rodrigues. He had a really slow start, but as he played more games he really started to stand out more and more. In the next-to-last game before the season pause I thought he was the biggest bright spot in a 6-2 loss to Carolina, then followed that up by scoring a goal in his next game. He is never going to be an impact player, but if this guy is skating on your fourth line or is an extra forward you probably have a pretty strong team.

Already Moved On To Their Next Team

7. Dominik Kahun. Rutherford’s first move before the 2019-20 season was to trade Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for Kahun. For a while, he seemed like a perfect fit. He brought youth, a cheap contract, some speed, some skill, and after a slow start had really started to become a solid contributor. But he was traded just before the deadline, going to Buffalo for Sheary and Rodrigues. He was going to be due for a raise next season and was going to be another RFA to deal with this offseason. Good player. Just did not seem to be a fit long-term.

8. Alex Galchenyuk. Sometimes things just do not work out. It does not have to be anybody’s fault. There does not have to be a reason for it. It is just that sometimes a player and a team end up not being a fit. This is what happened with Galchenyuk and the Penguins. After some preseason optimism about what he could do skating on a line with Evgeni Malkin, Galchenyuk just ended up being a flop in Pittsburgh. He worked hard. He tried hard. Every once in a while he would put everything together and you would say to yourself, “wow this could work.” Then it never continued.