In desperate need of defensive depth due to injuries to Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang, Pittsburgh landed two of the worst players in hockey to fill out their roster. Penguins fans have routinely used Jack Johnson's absurd contract, agreed to this summer between the aging d-man and Jim Rutherford, as a punching bag for this team's struggles.
The ice is tilted, and the advanced stats predict it's not changing anytime soon.
Jack Johnson has been better this season from a defensive standpoint than Gudbranson has. pic.twitter.com/MXSwp8kcsW— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) February 25, 2019
Not what you want to see, Pittsburgh!
Jim Rutherford found a way to get Gudbranson and Jack Johnson on the same defense. Woooooooof.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 25, 2019
Rutherford is the laughing stock of the NHL. While he's frequently proved his detractors wrong, even building a perennial contender in Pittsburgh with timely acquisitions, this seems like a stretch of his confidence and ego.
The gambler's built up plenty of good will in the Steel City, but he's starting to run dry.
Let’s have some fun with Corsi, shall we.— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) February 25, 2019
It’s not the be-all, end-all, but it’s a good start most of the time.
Pittsburgh is paying over $7 million annually for two of the worst defensemen in hockey. While the addition of Chris Wideman, a cagey veteran, might've been praised in 2008, Rutherford's lack of a time machine seems to be an issue here.
The Pens traded the likes of Jamie Oleksiak earlier this season due to their supposed overwhelming abundance of defensive depth. In just a few months, they've been reduced to taking flyers on players universally lauded for their defensive inconsistency. What the hell happened?
.@PierreVLeBrun: Penguins traded Jamie Oleksiak earlier this year, and I think they wanted a little more teeth.They had a game recently with San Jose that got pretty nasty. Think Jim Rutherford wanted to add a bit of bite on his blueline. Interesting deal. The East is really fast— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) February 25, 2019
The Penguins won their Stanley Cups with an overwhelming amount of speed on all lines. In just two years, the rest of the NHL has finally adjusted. Oddly enough, Pittsburgh is responding by acquiring enforcers to protect their star players who quite frankly can't keep up outside the rare brawl between the blue lines. These are dinosaurs in today's game, not championship-deciding moves.
Rutherford's gambles paid off for quite some time. Finally, it might be time to cash out.
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