Cap implications could be as important as players in Hawks-Pens deal

The Penguins get a puck-moving defenseman from Chicago in Trevor Daley, while the Hawks get a respected veteran in Rob Scuderi and some needed salary-cap flexibility. Steve Woltmann/NHLI via Getty Images

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CrawfordCam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers
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QuickJonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
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What should we make of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Chicago Blackhawks trade?

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: How do you feel about the Penguins-Blackhawks trade, gang? First, I'm just happy to see any trade! The cap-stricken teams in the league haven't been able to find wiggle room to make any impact trades so far this season, but this one has some impact. Trevor Daley goes to Pittsburgh, and Rob Scuderi goes to Chicago in a swap of veteran defensemen, with the Blackhawks creating some $1 million in cap room because the Penguins are retaining one third of Scuderi's salary. It's amazing how many times Hawks general manager Stan Bowman has been able to do that over the years, getting other teams to eat salary in trades. It's allowed him to juggle and minimize his cap issues. But it's the Penguins who get the better player at this point, with the 32-year-old Daley able to play a top-four role and provide puck-moving skills for a Penguins blue line that was desperate for just that. Scuderi, 36, has seen better days, but he can still effectively block shots and kill penalties, and he brings two more Stanley Cup rings to a Hawks dressing room that already has plenty. You can never have enough character guys, though, and that's what Scuderi is. Daley never quite fit with the Hawks after coming over in the Patrick Sharp trade last summer. He no doubt welcomed the move to Pittsburgh. And Chicago now has more cap flexibility moving forward, which could come in handy closer to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Sean McIndoe@DownGoesBrown: Forgive me if I'm out of practice when it comes to analyzing actual hockey trades, but this feels like one of those deals that helps both teams. As Pierre said, the Penguins get the better player here. But the Hawks unload a player who, for whatever season, just wasn't clicking in Chicago, and they gain some cap space in the process. And who knows what Bowman will be able to do with the space -- for all the talk about just not expecting GMs to make trades in today's NHL, Bowman and the perpetually capped-out Hawks always seem to find a way to make a deal when needed. It's interesting how the team that actually makes use of all the tools in its toolbox also wins so often. Maybe there's a lesson there for some of Bowman's more risk-averse colleagues.

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: We had Daley on our Hockey Today podcast a few weeks ago just when his name was surfacing in trade talks, and he talked about trying to be patient while finding a fit in coach Joel Quenneville's plans in Chicago. It never really happened (six assists total, compared to 16 goals and 38 points for Dallas last season). So, I agree he should help a Penguins team that once again generated opportunities Monday night but couldn't get the job done, losing at home 4-1 to the red-hot Washington Capitals. The Penguins launched 45 shots at goaltender Braden Holtby, but only Evgeni Malkin managed to find the back of the net. That's what happens when you're 27th in the league in goals per game. Ouch. New Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan has his work cut out for him in getting the team out of the rut that cost former coach Mike Johnston his job over the weekend. Daley will help, but with defenseman Kris Letang out of the lineup for a couple of weeks, the road ahead looks steep no matter how you cut it.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: The salary cap, and specifically the Blackhawks, have changed the way I look at trades. Any time Chicago makes a trade that seems motivated more by cap space than personnel, the deal looks to favor the other team. To me, Daley is a more useful defenseman right now than Scuderi, but to a team like Chicago, the additional cap space the deal creates may end up being more valuable than either player. As Pierre noted, the Penguins are retaining one-third of Scuderi's contract, which means he costs the Blackhawks $2.25 million compared to Daley's $3.3 million. When every last dollar counts, that's significant. The most interesting thing to me isn't the players involved, but what Bowman will do with that additional flexibility.

Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: As far as the coaching situation in Pittsburgh, I said after GM Jim Rutherford made the coaching change that Sullivan is the right person for the job. On Monday, the Penguins were more aggressive and generated a season-high 45 shots in the loss to the Capitals. Afterward, Sullivan told reporters the team was pressing and trying to force plays, instead of allowing the natural flow of the game and the players' talents to take over. It's only one game under Sullivan, but the Penguins will improve. It's going to be interesting to see what happens in Pittsburgh's next game, a visit to Sullivan's former team the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

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