Granlund in, Bonino on the way for the Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins, Nick Bonino. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Nick Bonino. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins knew that the bottom six was going to have to look different, and with the NHL Trade Deadline just hours away, they have already made significant changes.

Pittsburgh began its reconstruction of the bottom six by waiving a pair of players that had not lived up to expectations: Kasperi Kapanen (claimed by the St. Louis Blues) and Brock McGinn (cleared and reassigned to the AHL).

From there, general manager Ron Hextall sent fourth-line center Teddy Blueger to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday for a defensive prospect and a third-round pick. Later that day, fans found out what those moves were helping to accomplish.

The Penguins have two new centers in the mix after making deadline deals.

Forward Mikael Granlund was sent to the ‘Burgh by the Nashville Predators in exchange for a second-round pick.

The 31-year-old posted 36 points (nine goals and 27 assists) in 58 games with the Predators this year and made his Penguins debut on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played over 16 minutes in the game, helping on the penalty kill and finishing with a plus-1 rating.

Granlund fills an important role for the Pens as a forward that can play in different roles at even strength and different special teams situations. In a perfect world, he’ll be a dynamic third-line center, a presence on the penalty kill, and an impact player on the second power play unit.

Then, Pittsburgh dealt for forward Nick Bonino, sending a pair of late-round picks to the San Jose Sharks. A two-time champion with the Penguins, Bonino returns to the Steel City to add further versatility to the bottom six.

With 10 goals and nine assists in 59 games this season, Bonino will be tasked with taking Blueger’s spot on the penalty kill and helping the bottom six become more well-rounded.

He has helped the Sharks establish the NHL’s fourth-best penalty kill, and he recorded 66 points in his two seasons in Pittsburgh, so I’m optimistic that the Bonino will check all of the aforementioned boxes for the Penguins.

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Pittsburgh has so far made changes that should help the team return to the postseason for a 17th straight season. Time will tell if this is enough to help them contend.