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Q: What has been the worst Penguins trade in the past 20 years? Was it the Jaromir Jagr trade, or the Markus Nasland trade? Was there some other trade that was worse then those two?
Josh Sufrin, Pittsburgh
MOLINARI: Seems like a timely issue to discuss, given that the NHL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. today.
The two deals you cite certainly are the front-runners for the distinction of being the Penguins' worst transactions in the past two decades. (In case anyone's memory needs to be refreshed, Craig Patrick sent Naslund to Vancouver for Alek Stojanov on March 20, 1996, and Jagr to Washington for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk and Michal Sivek on July 11, 2001.)
In Patrick's defense, it's worth noting that there were extenuating circumstances in both instances.
Naslund's skill level was no secret -- after all, he and Peter Forsberg had been a formidable tandem in Sweden during their formative years, and Naslund was a first-round draft choice in 1991 -- but the Penguins were desperate for muscle heading into the 1996 playoffs, and Stojanov seemed like he could provide that while taking a fairly regular shift.
Whether he really would have been able to fill that role effectively over an extended period will never be known, because he appeared in just 45 regular-season games here before having his NHL career cut short by the lingering effects of a traffic accident.
What's more, while Naslund went on to have a tremendous career with the Canucks, there's reason to suspect he wouldn't have been nearly as productive if he'd remained with the Penguins. For while his talents were obvious, Naslund was a quiet sort who seemed intimidated by some of the personalities in the Penguins' locker room. Getting a fresh start elsewhere easily was the best thing that could have happened to him.
As for Jagr, the Penguins traded him primarily because they realized they could not work out a new contract with him, although his relationship with the front office and some teammates had gotten more than a little strained by the time he was sent to the Capitals.
A good case obviously could be made that Patrick didn't get an adequate return, but Washington and the New York Rangers were the only teams to express serious interest in acquiring Jagr. That didn't give him much leverage in the negotiations, considering that it was widely known that holding on to Jagr wasn't a viable option.
(And it presumably wasn't much consolation to Patrick or ownership that the Jagr deal was one of those that did nothing to help either team. Beech, Lupaschuk and Sivek had almost no impact with the Penguins and Jagr, after getting a mega-deal from the Capitals, quickly wore out his welcome in Washington and was traded to the Rangers.)
If you're looking for a bronze medalist in this competition, the favorite might be the March 18, 1997 deal that sent Glen Murray to Los Angeles for Eddie Olczyk. Murray went on to score 370 more goals over the balance of his NHL career; Olczyk got 27.
On the flip side, Patrick set the standard for highly productive trades in a period between the summer of 1990 and the trade deadline the following season.
In that time, he got Joe Mullen from Calgary for a second-round draft choice, Larry Murphy and Peter Taglianetti from Minnesota for Jim Johnson and Chris Dahlquist, Jiri Hrdina from Calgary for Jim Kyte and -- in the signature move of Patrick's Hall of Fame career -- Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings from Hartford for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker.
Q: How is Janne Pesonen doing wherever he is playing? Is he worth another look going into the playoffs?
Brian, Clearwater, Fla.
MOLINARI: The Penguins didn't seem interested in giving Pesonen a serious look when he was on their payroll a year ago, so they're certainly not going to do so now that he's under contract to Kazan in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Pesonen, who was not chosen to play for Finland in the just-completed Olympics, has 14 goals and 11 assists in 42 games for his Russian team.