Twenty-one notes on the Penguins moves of the day, sending Brandon Sutter and a third-round pick to Vancouver for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a second-round pick and signing Eric Fehr to a three-year, $6 million contract.
— GM Jim Rutherford said he started discussing the basics of a Sutter-for-Bonino trade with Vancouver about a month before the draft.
— The third-round pick the Penguins gave up is the one they got from Buffalo as compensation for Dan Bylsma. The second-round pick the Penguins got was originally Anaheim’s. Because Anaheim will probably be one of the league’s better teams and Buffalo is still rebuilding, those picks probably won’t be too far apart in the draft order.
— Advanced stats say Bonino and Fehr are good possession guys.
— Quotable Rutherford: “The nice thing is we’ll have a competitive camp. It’s not like guys will be automatically put on the top six or the top nine. We have enough good players now that the guys are really going to have to compete for those spots and compete all year. If a guy falls off, there’s a guy waiting to jump right in there. I like the fact that we have enough guys that each guy can push each other.”
— If Sutter was super psyched about making the climb up the depth chart from third-line center with the Penguins to second-line center with the Canucks, he hid it well. “When you get to a team, you’re not too concerned with what your role’s going to be,” he said. “I just want to do what’s asked of me, but I hope to play an increased role. It sounds like there’s a opportunity for me to be a second-line center, but at the same time, whatever works for the coaches and whatever makes our team better.”
— Sutter on the fact that none of his three seasons with the Penguins ended with a championship: “There’s always a little bit of disappointment there, a bit of a sour taste, but there’s a good group there. I can’t say anything bad about it.”
— Bonino said he actually likes blocking shots, and he led Canucks forwards in the stat last season. He said that comes from his college days at Boston University, when coach Jack Parker used to give out helmet stickers for blocked shots.
— Rutherford said Bonino could play on the half-wall on a second power-play unit. That doesn’t seem too likely, unless there are injuries, but Bonino has been a scoring-line player in the past. I remember him centering Kyle Palmieri and Patrick Maroon on a very good line in Syracuse of the AHL. Bonino was BU’s leading scorer one season too.
— Bonino said the one Penguins player he knows well is Ben Lovejoy. They were teammates in Anaheim. “Maybe he liked me a little bit and he’ll say a few good things about me before I get there. He’s like the mayor. He talks to everybody,” Bonino said.
— Bonino just bought a house in Vancouver in mid-May. Didn’t even have it fully decorated yet. “The way the market is, we should be OK,” he said, looking at the bright side.
— Rutherford said Bonino is a smart player who could be used on the wing. I’m sure that’s true, but Bonino said he has very little experience playing anywhere but center.
— Quotable Bonino: “It’s turned more into a top nine (league) these days. Teams have good centers in the three spot. They’re getting a good amount of ice and they’re producing. That’s something the league has trended toward. I remember the Ducks in ‘07. They had Rob Niedermayer and Sami Pahlsson. It’s rare to find lines like that who are just solely checkers. Everyone can do everything, and that’s something I hope my line can do.”
— You know that whole joining-the-enemy angle that hack sports writers like me always take when a player goes from the Capitals to the Penguins? Here’s what Fehr had to say about it: “They’re two teams that didn’t really get along, but all along, really respected each other. I’m excited to join the Penguins and hoping to do great things.”
— Fehr was a right wing for most of his life. Transitioning to center in recent years meant learning to take faceoffs. He’s become pretty good at it, winning 52 percent of his draws last year. “When coach Adam Oates wanted me to play center, that was probably the biggest challenge for me, trying to win faceoffs against guys who have been doing it their whole life,” Fehr said. “I took it seriously. I worked with Jay Beagle. He’s one of the better faceoff men in the league. I picked his brain and took some strategies that he had. It’s a science. It’s not just dropping a puck. There’s a lot of skill involved in it. I’ve learned a lot the last couple years.”
— With all this talk about trades today, it’s easy to forget that Fehr was a free agent. He had multiple offers. He chose the Penguins. Here’s why: “The opportunity is there. There’s really good skill up front and a really exciting team that pushes the pace and wants to play offensive hockey. It’s also a team that has the ability to win. Being in Washington all these years, we always had a good team. We always had a shot. I want to have that. I want to have a shot at winning every year. With Pittsburgh, it’s a great opportunity. They’ve made some great additions and I’m happy to be joining the team.” Also, he liked the stability of a three-year deal.
— Clendening said he doesn’t know much about the Penguins organization, but he became good friends with Gibsonia’s Brandon Saad when they were teammates with the Blackhawks, so he has a little inside info on the Pittsburgh area. “He shot me a text and told me about the area and told me about maybe a place to live,” he said.
— Clendening is coming off a run to the Calder Cup finals with the AHL’s Utica Comets. “This is a very short summer. We didn’t finish until the 20th of June. Before I know it, I’m going to have to turn around and do it all again,” he said.
— Clendening has been one of the top offensive defensemen in the AHL over the past three seasons. His first two years, he made the league’s postseason all-star teams.
— Here’s how Clendening describes his offensive game: “I think just moving the puck, putting the puck in the right spots, getting it to the right guys, especially on a team like this. You give it to the right people, something’s bound to happen. I was lucky. I got to do the same thing in Chicago as part of a similar roster filled with NHL all-stars. I can’t be more thrilled to go back to a situation like that. I had at one point Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Keith. Now it’s Sid and Malkin and Kunitz. They know what they’re doing when they get it.”
— Clendening realized he forgot to mention Phil Kessel when ticking off the list of Penguins stars. He apologized. “It’s probably frowned upon to forget about that guy,” he joked.
— Here’s what Clendening says he has to get better at to become a full-time NHL regular: “I obviously need to improve everywhere, but I don’t think there’s any one thing that sticks out. Obviously, the better I defend, the easier it is to get the puck back and play to my strengths. That’s always been the same answer for me. Ever since I’ve turned pro, it’s been the same answer. Obviously playing defense at the NHL level is a hard thing. The quicker and more efficient I am at that, the quicker I get the puck back and play to my strengths.”
Bye for now,