It was February 26, 2009.
The Penguins GM at the time, Ray Shero, made a trade with the Anaheim Ducks acquiring forwards Eric Tangradi and Chris Kunitz in exchange for veteran defenseman Ryan Whitney. At the time of the trade, many hockey experts felt Tangradi was the main piece. Kunitz, on the other hand, was simply an “add-in” that Shero felt could help add some forward depth to a Penguins team that was struggling.
So, does anyone remember Eric Tangradi? I didn’t think so…
But we all remember Chris Kunitz. He was a lock on Sidney Crosby’s wing during his time in Pittsburgh, and became a staple to the Stanley Cup winning teams in 2009, 2016, and 2017.
He brought energy and tenacity against teams like the Flyers…
And he produced goals including this one which will go down as one of the most memorable goals in Pittsburgh Penguins history even in the waning moments of his career:
Fast forward to February 1, 2019.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford knew this Penguins team needed a shakeup before the deadline. They were playing too lackadaisical, and needed some fresh legs and some guys that could provide energy to the lineup. Rutherford addressed this by trading away Riley Sheahan, failed experiment Derick Brassard, and 3 draft picks to Florida for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.
The moment this trade was made, the majority of the hockey world focused on Nick Bjugstad, as his name was more well-known and recognizable. Bjugstad is mostly known for his shot as well as his size (6′ 6″ and 215 pounds). He has been a great addition to the Penguins and has become their mainstay 3rd line center. He has 6 goals and 4 assists in 26 games with Pittsburgh.
Jim Rutherford struck gold in this trade, but he did even moreso with the guy that was an “additional piece” in the trade: Jared McCann.
By no means is there a comparison to be drawn between Bjugstad and Tangradi. Bjugstad is an established player in this league and will certainly be an important piece in the Penguins run for a 3rd Stanley Cup in 4 years, but as of now it sure does look like once again, the “additional piece” became the “main piece” of the trade.
Since joining the Penguins, McCann has spent time playing 3rd line center, 3rd line left wing, and 1st line left wing with Crosby. Throughout his 26 games in Pittsburgh, McCann has an impressive 11 goals and 4 assists and could very easily eclipse 20 goals on the year.
McCann has been a perfect fit. He has brought speed, tenacity, and secondary scoring to a Penguins lineup that was lacking in speed, had little to no tenacity, and had zero secondary scoring.
Not to mention that McCann isn’t afraid to drop the gloves once in a while…
Oh, and he scores goals like these…
Not to mention that McCann does something that no Penguins player has seemed to be able to do over the years: score on an empty net.
McCann has certainly been making a name for himself, and will be a vital part of the Penguins playoff run if it makes it’s way into June. Sometimes the “additional piece” becomes the “main piece” in a trade, and so far McCann has certainly fit the bill.