Rob Scuderi Re-Signed One Year Ago Today
5:09:00 PM Matt Cooke Brad Marchand Boston Bruins NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby , Ray Shero , Robert Scuderi Edit
What a difference one year makes in the world of sports. Just one year ago on this exact date, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Rob Scuderi to a four-year deal, worth $3.375 million per-year. Scuderi, who received the nickname "The Piece" thanks to his fantastic defensive performances during the 2008-2009 playoffs, helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup playoffs, came back to the Pens after spending four years with the Los Angeles Kings. Scuderi, who is now 35-years old, has won two Stanley Cups as an NHL defenseman, and has played in the Stanley Cup finals three times with two different teams.
Former Penguins' general manager Ray Shero, said that not re-signing Scuderi was one of his biggest mistakes during his tenure with the Pens. Since hen, the Penguins had yet another disappointing postseason, Shero has been fired as GM, and Scuderi was the worst defenseman on the team during the 2013-2014 season. I would argue that 90% of the Penguins' fan-base, including the writers and bloggers, were extremely excited about Scuderi coming back. After all, he was the "Piece" and the last time Pens' fans saw Scuderi in a Pens' jersey he was lifting up the Stanley Cup. The Scuderi signing was nothing a case of thinking that the Pens could recapture some magic with a former player, who happened to be an older-former shell of himself. This was also the case when they borough back Alexei Kovalev and Mark Recchi.
Scuderi was awful last year, to say the least. Scuderi had the worst corsi on the team out of all defensemen, despite having the most sheltered zone starts out of all of the defensemen that played at least 41 games. If you want to get an even deeper look at just how bad Scuderi was last year, read this fantastic article by Adam Gretz. Scuderi was also brought back in to play with Kris Letang, the logic being that Scuderi's stay-at-home defensive style would go hand-in-hand with Letang's offensively aggressive style of play. Scuderi spent most of his time playing with either Letang or Matt Niskanen, but no matter who Scuderi was paired with, he was bad and made the whomever he was paired with bad as well.
Now the Penguins are stuck with Scuderi, for the next three years. On top of that, Scuderi has a limited no-trade clause and is not eligible for a compliance buyout. The Pens could buyout Scuderi down the road, but that would be costly as well. Here's what an ordinary buyout of Scuderi would look like:
Shero sure left new general manager Jim Rutherford with a big mess to clean up. Scuderi's contract is truly one of the worst in Penguins' history. It's also a big reason why the Penguins are having a hard time bringing in a legitimate top-six winger to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Also, consider the fact that the Penguins have a stockpile of extremely talented NHL defensemen in the waiting. Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington, Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin, and Robert Bortuzzo can all make the same horrid mistakes that Scuderi can and will make, but with more talent and way more upside. At 35 years-old and on the downside of his career, the Scuderi contract is herpes to the Penguins salary cap. The only hope is that Rutherford can find a trading partner that is willing to take Scuderi's contract on, which would probably have to include a prospect and/or draft pick. Other than that, everyone is going to have to hope that Scuderi pulls a Paul Martin and drastically improves this next season. Just don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Hindsight is 20/20, and most of us favored the Scuderi signing, but looking at it now, it's arguably a big reason why Shero no longer has a job.