Pittsburgh Penguins: Analyzing Simon Despres-Ben Lovejoy Deal and More on NHL Deadline Day


Feb 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy (6) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Anaheim Ducks won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins capped off an interesting NHL trade deadline day by dealing former first-round pick Simon Despres to the Anaheim Ducks for a familiar face in Ben Lovejoy.

This trade, paired with the earlier acquisition of St. Louis blueliner Ian Cole for Robert Bortuzzo, means that the character of the Pens’ defense corps has been modified a bit as they head into the final 20 games of the regular season.

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The primary takeaway from the Despres-Lovejoy deal is that the Penguins and general manager Jim Rutherford set out to add more of a veteran presence to the blue line. Lovejoy never found a way to win favor with former Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, but he has come into his own in recent years in Anaheim.

By the advanced numbers, this trade is essentially a wash, as both Despres and Lovejoy measure up as second- or third-pair defensemen in terms of creating shot attempts and preventing them. The 31-year-old Lovejoy is a bit stronger on the defensive side, so that might give an indication of where the Pens wanted to improve with this move.

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  • That’s not to say Lovejoy is a slouch at the offensive end, as both he and the 26-year-old Cole have demonstrated an ability to move the puck and join the rush if need be.

    Neither of the newest Penguins can match up physically with the two players who departed, but Pittsburgh’s game under Mike Johnston is much more about puck possession and smart decisions than corporal punishment.

    One imagines the Pens brass sees Cole and Lovejoy as better fits, especially considering their experience advantage over Despres and Bortuzzo.

    For more of my thoughts on the day, and other recent moves by the Penguins, listen to my radio interview with host Dave Weekley on his MetroNews Hotline show Monday afternoon:

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