Yes, Sundqvist has grown into a strong, two-way player since the trade, and he's turned into the type of bottom-6 center that the Penguins could use now. But this goes beyond just losing Sundqvist.
The trade was the first step in the Penguins stepping away from their identity of youth and speed that played such a huge role in winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, in favor of getting more "pushback." And as it turned out, Mike Sullivan didn't find much use for Reaves, and Reaves was sent to the Golden Knights after only 58 games as a Penguin.
When you look at the chain of events directly connected to that original trade, it's concerning how much the Penguins lost in the process. Let's break it down:
1. ZACHARY LAUZON DRAFTED
The Penguins dropped down 20 spots in the 2017 draft with the trade, and took Zachary Lauzon with the No. 51 overall pick. He never fully recovered from a concussion (and the injuries sustained by the impact that caused the concussion) and the Penguins relinquished their signing rights to him this summer. There is nothing the Penguins could have done to anticipate or fix Lauzon's concussion issues, but that pick was a pretty significant part of the return in the trade, and they now have nothing to show for it.
2. RYAN REAVES TRADED
Reaves was flipped to the Golden Knights shortly after in a three-team trade that saw the Penguins send their 2018 first-rounder, along with Ian Cole, Filip Gustavsson, and a third-round pick in the 2019 draft to the Senators, and brought Derick Brassard (at 60 percent salary), prospects Tobias Lindberg and Vincent Dunn, and a 2018 third-round pick to Pittsburgh.
3. VINCENT DUNN UNSIGNED, TOBIAS LINDBERG TRADED
The prospects acquired in that three-team deal were far from the focus of that trade, but the Penguins have nothing to show from that part of the deal now. Dunn never played a game for the Penguins organization. Lindberg finished the 2017-18 season in the Golden Knights' system, then moved to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for 2018-19.
The Penguins traded Lindberg to the Senators in December 2018 in exchange for forward Ben Sexton and defenseman Macoy Erkamps. Sexton scored seven goals and three assists in 26 games to finish the season. Erkamps saw time as a healthy scratch, and recorded four assists and a minus-3 rating in 24 games.
Sexton, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Erkamps, 24, is a restricted free agent.
4. THIRD-ROUNDER TRADED
The 2018 third-round pick acquired in the three-team trade was traded to the Avalanche, along with a fifth-round pick, in exchange for the 58th overall pick in that draft. The Penguins took forward Filip Hallander with that pick.
In a vacuum, this swap of picks was a good move. Hallander is now one of the Penguins' top prospects in the entire system, if not the top prospect. But to be fair, that's also a product of losing multiple first-round picks.
5. DERICK BRASSARD TRADED
Brassard never fit in that third-line center role, and played only 54 games for the Penguins. It was a costly experiment.
So, what do the Penguins have to show today from moves connected to correcting that initial trade?
They gave up:
• 2017 first-round pick
• 2018 first-round pick
• 2018 fifth-round pick
• 2019 second-round pick
• 2019 third-round pick
• 2019 fourth-round pick
• 2019 fourth-round pick
They now have:
Hallander is a great prospect, and McCann and Bjugstad filled their roles well in the time following their trade to Pittsburgh. But they are in no way equal to what was given up in the Sundqvist trade, and the subsequent trades made to correct the initial trade.
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