The Vancouver Canucks have acquired forward Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third-round pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Nick Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a 2016 second-round pick. The popular opinion around the internet on this trade is that the Pittsburgh Penguins are the clear winners.
I would agree that Vancouver gave up a lot; Nick Bonino has come into his own over the last couple of seasons, finding a consistent offensive game along the way. Bonino established career highs with Anaheim in 2013-14 (22, 27, 49) in 77 games. A year later, he became a piece of the Ryan Kesler trade. Bonino collected 39 points in 75 games for Vancouver. Bonino now becomes a nice complementary piece in Pittsburgh. The team also signed forward Eric Fehr to a three-year contract today.
Adam Clendening was an early second-round pick in 2011 and was looking forward to an opportunity in Vancouver this season. In addition, the Pittsburgh Penguins received a 2016 second-round pick. Pittsburgh also clears up some cap space with the deal. It makes sense why the majority of people view this as a great deal from the Pens’ perspective.
However, the Vancouver Canucks are getting one of the most underrated players, in my opinion. Brandon Sutter is one of the most reliable hockey players in the game. The 26-year-old does all the little things to help his team win a hockey game. Sutter has the ability to score 20+ goals and is renowned for his defensive assets. If the Vancouver Canucks were looking for a true replacement for Kesler, they have found it.
Sutter has been on the Penguins for the past three seasons after being acquired from Carolina in the Jordan Staal trade. Sutter is a strong two-play player and penalty killer and can also contribute offensively. He tied his career high in goals last season (21) but was entering the final year of his contract and would be due a raise, which is one of the main reasons why Pittsburgh wanted to trade him. Pittsburgh made a smart move to save cap space and got a lot of value in return.
Yes, the Vancouver Canucks may have paid the maximum price for someone who is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but I think this trade comes down to the general managers trying to find a better fit for their clubs. Pittsburgh most likely would lose a good player to free agency next year no matter what, and Vancouver saw an opportunity to get a player that fits their system better. (UPDATE: Vancouver has since signed Sutter to a five-year extension with an AAV of $4.375 million).
“He understands the game, understands how things work, understands things aren’t always going to go right and adjust to that,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. “He accepted his role … I’m not sure that would have been the case a year from now when he’s free to go.”
Rutherford believes Bonino could join the team’s second power-play unit. “[Bonino] is very smart and has a good hockey sense,” Rutherford said.
At the end of the day, I see this as a solid hockey trade for both sides….
Information from ESPN was used in this report