Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford had threatened changes if his team's early season tribulations continued. After a loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night dropped them to 14th place in the Eastern Conference, those changes arrived.
Pearson will make $3.75 million against the salary cap through 2021. Hagelin will make $4 million against the cap and is an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Penguins will retain $250,000 of Hagelin's salary this season, making their cap identical for this season.
Both players have struggled mightily this season.
Hagelin, known as one of the fastest players in the NHL, has one goal and two assists in 16 games, despite playing the majority of his time this season with stars Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. He has appeared in 504 games over eight NHL seasons with the New York Rangers, Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, tallying 225 career points (89-136=225), a plus-85 rating and 220 penalty minutes.
Pearson had just one assist in 17 games for the Kings, despite being reunited with center Jeff Carter and winger Tyler Toffoli on a line that was among the NHL's best two seasons ago. He has tallied 69 goals, including 17 game-winning goals, and 144 points in 325 career games in six seasons with the Kings. He set career highs in goals (24) and points (44) during the 2016-17 season and has reached the 40-point plateau each of the past two seasons.
The Kings are in last place in the Western Conference with 11 points in 17 games and already fired head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This trade would seem to signal a restructuring of the roster, as they've swapped a player with three years left on his deal for one with an expiring contract.
"Our team is obviously not in a position that we are comfortable with in terms of how we are playing," Kings GM Rob Blake said. "This is a change to our lineup that gives us an additional amount of speed. With Carl Hagelin, his No. 1 asset is speed and getting to holes, and we think he will play a big role on the penalty kill for us going forward."