After falling out of favor with Mike Sullivan, being a healthy scratch for the past 20 games, and having the Penguins' desire to trade him played out publicly, Sergei Plotnikov is finally moving on as Pittsburgh traded him to Arizona before the deadline for a conditional 2017 7th round draft pick and Matthias Plachta. Plachta is a 24-year-old German LW playing his first season in North America after having signed as free agent with the Coyotes this past offseason on a 1 year deal. With 2 goals and 5 assists through 46 games with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL, it doesn't appear that Plachta has much of a future with the Pittsburgh organization, and he was likely included in the deal as Arizona was at the 50 player organizational limit and needed to trade a player to take one back.
It was a curious tenure in Pittsburgh for the Russian, who bought out his KHL contract last offseason so he could jump to the NHL. Expectations were mixed heading into the season, with some believing he could find a place on fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin's left wing and others believing that he'd be more suited to a role on the 4th line. Unfortunately, Plotnikov didn't manage to live up to the most tempered of expectations. Though he posted a very high relative Corsi under former coach Mike Johnston as the rest of the team struggled with possession, he wasn't able to translate that into offensive production, managing just 2 assists in 32 games played. And when Mike Sullivan took over, the rest of the team received a huge boost in possession when Sullivan opened things up, but Plotnikov tanked in relation to his teammates. After just 10 games played under the new head coach, he was relegated to the press box, and after a stream of AHL callups found a place in the lineup due to injuries ahead of Plotnikov it was clear his time in Pittsburgh was over.
The trade allows the Penguins to free up a prorated portion of Plotnikov's $925k salary, and while the return is little it is better than nothing and allows the organization to save face instead of relegating a sought after free agent from a foreign league to the minors instead of allowing him a chance to catch on elsewhere.