Pittsburgh Penguins Improve Forward Depth With Steve Downie Signing

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There have been a lot of questionable moves by NHL general managers so far during the free agency period, but Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has done a great job getting what the Penguins need at a reasonable price.

On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that the Penguins signed veteran forward Steve Downie to a one-year deal worth $1 million. Downie will bring two things that the Penguins lacked throughout the regular season and playoffs last year – forward depth and toughness.

If you know the history between Penguins assistant coach Rich Tocchet and Downie, then the signing shouldn’t be a surprise. Before Tocchet was named assistant coach of the Penguins, he was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. One of his players was a 21-year-old Downie, whose work ethic and passion for the game always stood out to Tocchet.

If Tocchet wasn’t in Pittsburgh, I doubt this move ever happens.

When you have superstars on your roster like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, you need to make some room for tough guys to protect them. Downie has had a history of going a little bit berserk on the ice, but that’s a part of the game that the Penguins haven’t had in a while.

If you want to draw out the role that Downie will likely play, you can put him in between Georges Laraque and Gary Roberts. Laraque was strictly an enforcer and one of the best fighters in the last decade, whereas Roberts was a seasoned veteran who grinded his way through every shift.

Downie won’t be expected to put up 40-plus points like he did in 2010 for the Lightning, but he will be expected to be a third-line energizer. Either way, the addition of Downie to the Penguins gives them more depth up front and will bring a physical aspect to their game that was lacking last season. This is another solid move by Rutherford, and what a great name to have in Pittsburgh. Steve Dahhhnie will be a fan favorite.

Shane Darrow is an NHL writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneDarrow

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