The Pittsburgh Penguins have successfully avoided going to be arbitration with recently acquired forward Nick Spaling.
Spaling signed a new two year, $4.4m contract with the Penguins on Thursday. Spaling and Patrick Hornqvist were both acquired in the trade that saw James Neal sent to Nashville. I was quite shocked with this trade. I figured James Neal was going to be staying with Pittsburgh for a long time.
Regardless, the deal is done and now Nick Spaling and Patrick Hornqvist have a wonderful opportunity to improve their skills with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both these guys had a very successful final year in Nashville. The two forwards combined for an impressive total of 85 points last season. Therefore, I’m confident these two guys are suitable replacements for James Neal and Jussi Jokinen. I believe Hornqvist will get the chance to play with Penguins Captain Sydney Crosby on the team’s number one powerplay unit.
Hornqvist has had tremendous success tallying powerplay points. He scored seven powerplay goals and ended the year with 17 powerplay points. It may not seem like much, but if he’s paired up with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, those numbers will increase tremendously. Nick Spaling and Patrick Hornqvist have tremendous potential, speed and aren’t afraid to crash the net when required. They have proven they can score goals and cause opponents all kinds of grief. These guys certainly provide the Pittsburgh Penguins with a little more depth.
New Management Making Changes
This Pittsburgh team has been through quite a shake up within its management staff in recent months. This trade marks the first big change that GM Jim Rutherford has made in my opinion. It will be interesting to see where head Coach Mike Johnston puts Spaling and Hornqvist moving forward. He may keep them together on a line or he may do what I’m hoping and put one of them with Sidney Crosby.
Regardless, most of the moves made by Rutherford so far will certainly benefit the team. He brought in defencemen Christian Erhoff to replace Brooks Orpik and has a very dependable backup goalie in Thomas Greiss now. Forwards Steve Downie and Blake Comeau will add more grit and strength to the roster as well.
I don’t think the offensive tactics will change much for this team. But with these new additions, the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly take on a new look.