A lot has been said about the changes that were made to the Malkin line this offseason. The Neal departure brought a slew of reactions, some positive, some negative, and it seemed everyone had something to say. Neal is easily a 30-40 goal scorer and has a known chemistry with 71. Some will also argue that the return was not enough for Neal. I am not here to argue either way. What I am here to discuss is how greatly overlooked the fixes Rutherford made to the bottom have been.
It is a known fact-strong bottom lines win Cups. Period. We saw that in 2009 with our own team, Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal as unsung heroes, stepping up big when the time came. Crosby and Malkin will always be superstars and frankly we expect perfection from them. It is just business as usual when they perform big.
The Penguins will gain a healthy Beau Bennett, and Craig Adams will be returning. They also agreed to a deal with Marcel Goc, who was a strong pick up last season. He is a faceoff specialist who is smart with the puck. He had a strong postseason and earned the chance to sport the black and gold again this year.
The next intelligent move Rutherford made? He got grit. I get it. Everyone is sick of the grit argument. Cool. Does not mean it isn’t good to add a gritty player to your roster. Enter: Steve Downie. We loved to hate him. Really. He was so irritating and annoying, like a gnat you just can’t seem to swat away. That is why he is perfect. This time he will be buzzing around someone else and agitating them. One year and $1 million dollars? Yes, please.
Blake Comeau is a player who had 16 points in 61 games in 2013-14 and will be a welcomed addition to the Penguins. He is a guy capable of playing on either wing which is huge for a team riddled with injuries last year. He is a physical body that is not scared to step up when called upon and he will fit in well with the team.
These are not the flashiest players, and they are not going to going to have fans freaking out. They will be the players that are idolized when they perform well, and criticized when they do not meet the expectations placed upon them on any given day. There will be days when Rutherford is a genius for the pick ups, and days where "Rutherford needs to be fired" for the moves made. The fact remains, that Malkin and Crosby are in their prime years and the supporting cast needs to be just as capable as the main characters. Getting more top names won't necessarily win Cups.
The single biggest complaint I have heard from Penguins fans consistently since 2009 is that we were missing the round off on the bottom six. Well, here you go. It may not be exactly what you envisioned in your mind; it may not be perfect. But here is the thing that is important to remember. We all complained when difficult decisions and moves were not made. Here they are, being made and while it sucks losing our favorite players for those we consider “less” than the previous version, sometimes it isn’t about the flash; it’s about the pieces to make the puzzle complete.