The Pittsburgh Penguins added some scoring depth as they prepare for a 14th straight playoff run, and the new additions are expected to make their team debuts at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.
Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues were acquired on Monday, and the forwards are arriving at a good time, as the Penguins will try to avoid losing four in a row for the first time this season.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told reporters that the new additions should give coach Mike Sullivan a better opportunity to spread around the minutes.
“The top three lines were probably playing a little bit more than they should,” Rutherford said. “[We’re] trying to get their minutes down so that we can come and come hard, shift after shift, with four lines. That’s what we should be able to do after we made those changes.”
Pittsburgh lost 5-3 at the Washington Capitals on Sunday to fall two points behind the Capitals for the Metropolitan Division lead.
The Penguins have been outscored 14-5 in their three-game losing streak.
The Kings, stuck at the bottom of the Western Conference standings for most of the season, did most of their trading in the days leading up to the deadline, unloading veterans Kyle Clifford and Alec Martinez, both of whom were part of the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup Championship teams.
“It’s not an easy few months here because you’re dealing with some very important people in the history of the L.A. Kings,” Los Angeles general manager Rob Blake told reporters on Monday. “They’ve been able to do a tremendous amount, but we’re moving forward.”
Los Angeles is playing better in the past two weeks, posting a 3-2-1 record in their past six games following a dreadful 2-12-1 stretch.
Blake said the remainder of the season will be a prime opportunity for the younger players to experience more playing time against NHL competition.
“It’s important for those guys to show what they can do the next 20 games,” Blake said.
The Kings should be plenty familiar to Marleau, who played for Pacific Division rival San Jose from 1997-2017 before rejoining the Sharks prior to this season.
Marleau has played 115 games against Los Angeles, the most against any NHL team, and has 43 goals and 52 assists, both also tops against any opponent.
One thing Marleau doesn’t have is a Stanley Cup title.
“His desire to get that ultimate prize is going to be big for him,” Rutherford said. “His time is running out. He should be a good fit for us.”
Sheary, who played his first three NHL seasons for Pittsburgh before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres following the 2017-18 season, gets another chance to succeed with the Penguins. He has experience playing alongside Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby.
“He was pretty pumped when I talked to him,” Rutherford said. “The coaches felt very strong when his name came up that it would be seamless for him coming back in here.”
–Field Level Media