Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Pittsburgh Penguins have added an aging forward to help solidify their chances at winning another Stanley Cup. Announced on Sunday night, the Penguins have added former LA Kings centre Jeff Carter (36) in exchange for some draft picks. The Penguins currently find themselves in 3rd place in the East Division and winners of 8 of their last 10 games. As the big 3 (Malkin, Letang, & Crosby) find themselves on the wrong side of 30, Pens’ management knows that the window for another Cup is closing so it’s time to act. Let’s take a look at some of the other trades that have happened in the past few years that resemble this closely.
Jarome Iginla (2013)
If there’s one thing about Pittsburgh sports teams, it’s that they refuse to spend money on big name players. The Steelers are notorious for not going after pricey free agents and the Pirates, well, are the Pirates. So when the Penguins traded the Calgary Flames for Jarome Iginla mid-season in 2013, I was excited! A future Hall of Famer and at 35 years old, Iginla brought with him plenty of NHL experience along with 500+ career goals. However, when Iginla arrived in Pittsburgh, he was just a shell of his former self.
A shortened season allowed the Penguins to easily win the Atlantic Division but when the playoffs came around, they fall apart. After winning the first two rounds of the playoffs (barely making it past the first), they absolutely had nothing left to give against the Bruins. Iginla especially looked gassed. In 15 games of playoff action, he scored 4 goals (not bad), but during that series with the Bruins, he had 0 goals, 0 assists, and a -4 rating. Iginla would then retire in 2018 without having won a Stanley Cup.
Lee Stempniak (2014)
Certainly nowhere near as talented as Iginla, but still a serviceable NHL forward, the Penguins called up the Flames once again. This time around, they acquired Lee Stempniak (just 30 at the time). After another first place finish on the season, the Pens were ready once again to make a run at the Cup. Following a 6 game battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Pens welcomed the NY Rangers to Pittsburgh for what would turn into a 7 game series.
After a loss to open, the Pens won 3 games in a row, easily looking as if they would win the series. That’s when everything fell apart…once again. In each of the final 3 games, the Penguins totaled 1 goal respectively. Where was Stempniak during those games? In over 30 minutes of ice time, he attempted just 4 shots and finished with a -1 rating. For that entire playoffs, he would finish with just 2 goals and a -4 rating (I’m noticing a trend).
Patrick Marleau (2020)
Patrick Marleau was acquired right before everything shut down because of COVID-19 but still, he was someone to be excited for! Marleau (40 at the time), brought with him to Pittsburgh a storied career in San Jose but never had a chance to lift the Cup. Having scored over 550 regular season goals and 19 years of playoff experience, Marleau was sure to provide a lift to the Pens when they needed it. Right?
After finishing 3rd in the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins were paired against the Montreal Canadiens for the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for Marleau because of how respected he is in the league, this was the worst playoff performance of the aforementioned. In just over 40 minutes of ice time, Marleau attempted only 2 shots and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Zero goals, zero assists, and would you look at that…a -4 rating. Back on the Sharks for another season, it’s not looking like Marleau is going to win that Cup :/
I’m not saying the reason the Pens weren’t able to seal the deal was solely because of these veteran players. But they should use caution when throwing a new cog into the machine when that machine is already working pretty well. Let’s see what a 36 year old Jeff Carter can add to the Penguins’ firepower for the rest of the season and beyond. If history tells me anything, I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.
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