The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed gritty forward Steve Downie to a one year / $1 million deal, reuniting him with Penguins head coach Rick Tocchet. Downie was selected in the first round (29th overall) of the 2005 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2008, Downie was traded from the Flyers to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In his fourth season with Tampa Bay, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, where he spent two additional seasons before being traded back to the Philadelphia Flyers. Over the last few seasons, Downie has been injury prone, only appearing in two games during the lockout shortened 2013 season. He played a combined 62 games for the Avalanche and Flyers last season.
Downie’s best season in the NHL was 2009-10 with the Tocchet coached Lightning. Skating alongside Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, Downie put up 22 goals and 24 assists (46 points). Since that season, he has been unable to equal that offensive production, so it stands to reason that his line mates had a bigger effect on his stats than Downie’s abilities did.
Downie could prove to be a budget replacement for the grit lost in the Penguins lineup when James Neal was traded to the Nashville Predators. For $1 million, the Penguins have a player that was one of the toughest in his prime. The injuries are a concern, as well as Downie being on the NHLs unofficial watch list due to his reputation of being a dirty player.
Perhaps the reunion with Tocchet will spark the forwards offensive touch, but unless Tocchet finds some talented line mates for Downie, it is unlikely we see production on the level of his breakout 2009-10 season. Last season Downie had a 49.6 CF% and an even 0.0 RelCF%. He was used on the power play, as he was on the ice for a combined 31.2% of the Avalanche and Flyers power play time. [ExtraSkater.com]
Downie may not be as useful of a player as he was a few seasons ago, but for $1 million and one season, this is a pretty low risk, potentially high reward signing by the Pittsburgh Penguins.