The Vancouver Canucks have acquired forward Tanner Pearson from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
Pearson is on to his third NHL team this season, having scored 14 points (9g-5a) in 44 games with the Penguins after recording just a single point in 17 games with the Kings. Pearson has had better days, as he had reached 40 points in each of his previous two seasons with the Kings. A turnaround is still possible, as Pearson is still only 26 years old.
The Canucks have attempted a number of left wingers on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Sven Baertschi would seem like the best choice, but he has been sidelined for much of the season with a concussion. Nikolay Goldobin has been given his share of opportunities there, but he has scored just six goals all season and has also been healthy scratched for his defensive play. Josh Leivo has also been given a go here, but he has been held without a point in his past six. Ryan Spooner was recently acquired, but he was held to under 10 minutes in his last game. So Travis Green might place Pearson on the top line and hope it sticks, but it’s more likely that it won’t last.
Pearson had recently been a healthy scratch in Pittsburgh, so his departure shouldn’t have a profound effect on the forward lines there, although he'd already been given his shot with the big guns there and couldn't make it work. Teddy Blueger would have seemed like a beneficiary, but the Penguins just re-assigned him to the AHL. Blueger was reasonably productive with four points in nine NHL games and will likely be recalled again soon, as he leads the Pens’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 21 goals. The Pearson trade should also solidify Zach Aston-Reese as a top-9 forward. Aston-Reese has been heating up with four points in his last four games.
Gudbranson has no fantasy value outside of contributions in hits and penalty minutes. His minus-27 is by far the worst on the Canucks, and the third overall pick in 2010 doesn’t appear to be anything more than a third-pairing defenseman in today’s NHL (just ask Canucks’ fans). The Penguins are desperate for any defensive help that they can find, as Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, and Olli Maatta are all sidelined with injuries at the moment. The Penguins will have to pay Gudbranson $4 million for two more seasons after this one, which is a considerable price for his expected value