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Jim Rutherford Made The Right Moves

from Sam Page of Sports Illustrated,

Rutherford’s strategy for fixing this hasn’t so much been to bolster the bottom half as to erase the traditional top six/bottom six divide completely. His first move—trading Neal for Hornqvist and Spaling—typified this mentality. He parted with the team’s best winger for two forwards whose odd skill sets allowed them to play all over Nashville’s lineup.

Hornqvist is a modern Tomas Holmstrom, fearless and gritty in front of the net. But compared to Neal, Hornqvist’s tools are more Fisher Price than Black & Decker. He can’t skate, or score from even a moderate distance, and he will often enter the offensive zone by chasing his own soft, harmless shot, hoping to force a cover-up whistle....

Rutherford also bought low on several free agents, handing out a series of affordable one-year deals—lack of star power, after all, was not the reason why the Penguins hadn’t been back to the Stanley Cup finals since 2009. They now boast five players who have caddied for stars in the past: Hornqvist, Kunitz, Blake Comeau, Steve Downie and Pascal Dupuis. With trade-deadline acquisition Marcel Goc centering the third line, Pittsburgh can follow the skilled-center-plus-crease-crasher model with their top three lines—Crosby with Kunitz; Malkin with Hornqvist; and maybe Goc with Downie. (No one will ever mistake Goc for Malkin, but the underrated German has offensive talent.)


Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Primis's avatar

This article seems to be putting lipstick on a pig.  The divide between top six and bottom six has been erased because now even more guys int he top six are bottom six kind of guys.

Posted by Primis on 07/09/14 at 12:04 PM ET


The only premise I agree with is that a team should try to find players who can play up and down the lineup. The league is full of guys who can play 3rd or 4th line roles but if an injury happens in the top 6, they simply aren’t capable of handling more minutes, increase PP or PK time. The reasons they are capable are many but it isn’t always skill. Some of it comes down to experience, conditioning and comfort level.

Posted by evileye on 07/09/14 at 12:51 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

It’s worth noting that this article was written by at least one national writer with regards to Ray Shero for every off-season for the past six years.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 07/09/14 at 01:05 PM ET

Russian Rocket's avatar

Not one mention of Brandon Sutter while the author talks about Goc centering the third line and his “offensive talent” (career high 30 pt season).

Posted by Russian Rocket on 07/09/14 at 02:12 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

Dumb article. I’m sick of the media comparing Homer and Hornqvist. There’s no comparison.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 07/09/14 at 04:39 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

I can’t tell if this article is totally sarcastic or not.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 07/09/14 at 11:57 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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