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Friday, February 23, 2018

Pens Trade Cole, Others, for Brassard

The wheeling and dealing came early for General Manager Jim Rutherford as he made a BIG splash in the trade market, sending Ian Cole, this year's 1st round pick, and goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson to the Ottawa Senators for center Derick Brassard.

The search for some offensive depth gave way to numerous names over the past few days as the trade deadline neared. Once Michael Grabner was traded to the Devils, Jim Rutherford seemed to move on to his next target: center Derick Brassard.

Ian Cole
Brassard, with 18 goals and 38 points on the year, is expected to slot in to the third line center role. There he'll likely center Phil Kessel, allowing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to have their own line emulating the three line monster that led the Penguins to the 2015-16 Stanley Cup as Kessel became the key to the HBK line with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino as his line mates.

The move will bring the Penguins near unparalleled center depth, with the recently hot Riley Sheahan slotting in to 4th line center between a combination of either grit (Ryan Reaves, Tom Kuhnhackl) or skill (Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon).

Going the other way are this year's first round pick as well as 2016's 2nd round pick, goalie Filip Gustavsson.  Gustavsson has no doubt been made expendable by the emergence of a plethora of young goaltending in the Penguins system including Matt Murray, Tristian Jarry, Casey DeSmith, and Alex D'Orio.

The biggest name switching teams is Ian Cole. The defenseman, a key part of the past two Penguins Stanley Cup victories, seemed to be on the outs with head coach Mike Sullivan for a large part of the year. While his trade isn't a surprise, and made largely to make salary cap room for Brassard, it's still disappointing to many fans.

Additional details come trickling out as it seems Ottawa is retaining as much as 18% of Brassard's $5 million salary through this season and next (roughly $900,000) as well as rumors of a third team involved (likely flipping Cole, a pending UFA).

The trade deadline is Monday, February 26th at 3pm. Stay tuned to Pens Initiative to see what Jim Rutherford has up his sleeves on the way to a threepeat until then.

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