Shock turns to excitement for Erik Gudbranson after trade to Penguins
Erik Gudbranson had just walked in the door to congratulations from his girlfriend for surviving another NHL trade deadline without being dealt. Then his phone buzzed.
Gudbranson was surprised to learn the Pittsburgh Penguins made an 11th-hour move Monday, sending Tanner Pearson to Vancouver in exchange for the 6-foot-5, 217-pound defenseman.
“So, it was certainly a shock,” Gudbranson said, “but it turned to excitement very quickly.”
After a day of dealing with immigration issues and travel, Gudbranson practiced with the Penguins on Wednesday afternoon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
The 27-year-old Gudbranson said he plans to make his physicality felt as a stay-at-home defenseman who can skate, punish opponents along the boards and provide a net-front presence.
“I just want to come here and solidify the back end as much as possible,” Gudbranson said. “My game’s pretty simple: Keep stuff in front of me, be tough in front of the net and be physical on guys.”
Gudbranson was paired with Marcus Pettersson in practice, but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan declined to reveal whether they will be paired for Friday’s game at Buffalo. The Penguins have lost defensemen Olli Maatta, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin and Chad Ruhwedel to injuries, so Gudbranson is a welcome addition.
“We’re excited to have him,” Sullivan said. “He’s going to bring a physical element to our blue line. He’s got good size. He’s strong. He’ll be in the battle areas. He’ll be strong net-front. He brings an edginess to his game that we know is going to help our overall group.”
Gudbranson is excited for a fresh start and welcomes the challenge to make an immediate impact with the Penguins, who are in eighth place in Eastern Conference standings, one point ahead of Columbus.
“I think it’s unfortunate but fortunate that I kind of get thrown into it really quickly here,” Gudbranson said. “I’m not necessarily getting my feet wet. I’m diving right in, so I’m excited for the upcoming game and ready to get going.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .