On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins traded Carl Hagelin to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Tanner Pearson. Pittsburgh retained 6.3 percent of Hagelin’s contract, although he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Hagelin is no stranger to this situation, as he was dealt to Pittsburgh from Anaheim in 2016 for David Perron, in what was another change-of-scenery deal by Jim Rutherford. Hagelin went on to form one-third of the dynamic HBK Line for Pittsburgh in its Stanley Cup years, but he has struggled since.
This season, Hagelin has only mustered up one goal and three points in 16 games. He is most known for his speed and penalty killing ability, but the dip in production is certainly concerning.
Pearson has equally struggled on the opposite coast thus far this season. He has only one assist in 17 games, and his goalless streak extends 30 games to last season.
Picked 30th overall in 2012, Pearson got his breakthrough in Los Angeles’ 2014 Cup run, where he scored 12 points in 24 games. He has been a consistent 35-to-40 point scorer since, which is clearly not enough for Rob Blake to keep around on a team that is already struggling for offense.
The change in scenery is one that both Blake and Rutherford will hope help save their teams’ seasons. Pittsburgh sits at a salvageable 7-6-3, but Los Angeles is at the bottom of the league at 5-11-1. Time is running out for the Kings, who sit dead last in goals for as well with 34. The next closest, Anaheim, is 10 ahead.
The initial reaction to the trade seems to favor Pittsburgh. Pearson still holds talent and may have needed a change just as Max Domi and Alex Galchenyuk did. Sticking him next to the likes of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin could be the boost that he needs.
As for Hagelin, he is moving out of his prime and is not exactly a noted offensive juggernaut. He can provide solid middle-six depth for Los Angeles, but it simply does not seem like an upgrade.
The Hagelin for Perron trade a few years back did, rightfully, change Pittsburgh’s season and ultimately the franchise. However, the Kings are likely too far gone and Hagelin is not the player he once was for this to happen again.