PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins were reportedly looking to bolster their defensive depth ahead of Monday’s 3 p.m. Trade Deadline.
As it turns out, they found two defensemen.
According to the Penguins, they traded Robert Bortuzzo and a 2016 seventh round draft pick to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Cole.
Cole, 26, has nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) in 54 games with the Blues this season.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 219-pound defenseman was drafted 18th overall by the Blues in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Cole carries a cap hit of $825,000 this season. He will become a restricted free agent after this season.
In 38 games with the Penguins this season, Bortuzzo had six points (2 goals, 4 assists) to go along with 68 penalty minutes and 116 hits.
Bortuzzo was selected in the third round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
In the final minutes before the deadline, the Penguins brought a familiar face back to Pittsburgh.
According to SportsNet’s Mark Spector, the Penguins traded Simon Despres to the Anaheim Ducks for Ben Lovejoy.
“If we didn’t have the number of young defensemen that we presently have, then this would have been a difficult deal for us to make,” said Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford. “But when we’re sitting there with Maatta and Pouliot and Dumoulin and Harrington, at some point in time all these guys have to get in, and they all can’t get put in at the same time; so that’s when we had more of a comfort level, the fact that we have so many young defenseman and we were trying to get more experience.”
In 40 games for the Ducks, Lovejoy has 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists).
The Penguins traded Lovejoy to the Ducks back in 2013 for a fifth round pick in the 2014 draft. With that pick, the Pens selected Anthony Angello.
Despres finally got a shot to show what he can do this year after being largely overlooked for the past couple of seasons.
In 59 games, Despres had 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) to go along with 64 penalty minutes.
He seemed to be gaining confidence as the season went along. To me, the biggest difference with Despres this year was his improved strength.
In previous years, Despres would get the worst of most hits he would give and receive.
At the time of the trade, Despres ranked 15th in the league with 184 hits. Among defensemen, he ranked fourth on that list.
By comparison, Lovejoy has been credited with 99 hits this season and Cole only has 42.
All in all, the Penguins gave up their two top hitting defensemen today in favor of two better puck-moving players.
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