Penguins trade Derrick Pouliot to Vancouver for Andrey Pedan, draft pick
During an offseason discussion of his pursuit for a third-line center, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he planned to wait patiently until the trade market began to shake loose.
With teams finalizing rosters before the start of the season, there was some shaking going across the NHL on Tuesday, but it wasn't the kind that registered on the Richter scale.
The Penguins traded slow-developing defenseman Derrick Pouliot to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
There were no major developments, though, in Rutherford's ongoing center search.
“They're shaking, probably,” Rutherford said. “But not totally loose.”
Pouliot, 23, was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft. He is a two-time AHL all-star who showed promise during NHL call-ups in his first two pro seasons but took a step back last year, struggling profoundly in 11 games with the Penguins.
The Penguins would have needed to expose Pouliot to waivers if they intended to send him to Wilkes-Barre again. Instead, they got a draft pick and a depth defenseman for him.
Vancouver showed interest, in part, because new coach Travis Greene coached Pouliot with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
“Derrick is in the same position he was a year ago,” Rutherford said. “I give him a lot of credit. He worked hard this summer. He came in ready. His camp was OK, but he's still not in the top six. If he's not going to play, he's going to go backwards.”
Pouliot's vision, agility and offensive awareness were always strong, but his reads and decision-making with the puck never reached NHL caliber.
“It's disappointing when you look at where he was selected in the draft, that it didn't turn out better, but I can't say I'm disappointed in our group,” Rutherford said. “The coaches in Wilkes-Barre and our development department, they worked very hard with him, and he worked very hard. It just didn't get to the level that he was projected to get to.”
Pedan, 24, is a 6-foot-5, 213-pound physical defender from Lithuania who was chosen by the New York Islanders in the third round of the 2011 draft. He spent last season with Utica of the AHL, recording five goals, 10 points and 100 penalty minutes in 52 games. He was pointless in 13 games with the Canucks in 2015-16.
“He's big, 6-5, 200, very physical and very tough,” Rutherford said.
For Penguins fans hoping the Pouliot trade was a precursor to another deal that would help replace Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen at center, Rutherford has a message: Hold your horses.
“It's the same as what I said all along. I'm not going to trade just to get somebody,” Rutherford said. “Unless something changes, as the season opens here, in the first month, I'm going to be patient until I feel it's somebody that can help us win come June. I'll continue to be patient unless there's something that dramatically changes here.”
As it stands, Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney will center the team's bottom two lines for the season opener. Rutherford seems fine with that for now.
“(McKegg has) some NHL experience. He can skate, and he's had a good camp. Rowney played for us in the playoffs and in the finals last year, so we know what he can do. There doesn't have to be urgency,” Rutherford said. “At some point in time, would I like to upgrade the third-line center from where we are today? Yeah, and we will, but when the time is right.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.