It’s not much of a surprise that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ participation in NHL Trade Deadline Day was comparable to an old Verizon commercial.
Can you hear me now?
At least General Manager Ray Shero knows his phones work, but I’m actually glad there were no additional trades made today. Some of the names floating around on Twitter and blogs today did not have any appeal to me whatsoever.
Namely, Jason Arnott was at the forefront of the rumors and appeared to be a lock to come to Pittsburgh. Sure he’s a good player and his resume speaks for itself (1,161 games played, 396 goals, 501 assists), but at 36-years-old, he doesn’t have the wheels to keep up in the Penguins’ system.
Granted, Alex Kovalev has lost a step from his previous tenure in Pittsburgh, but their skill sets aren’t even close. Kovalev can slow the game down and has magic hands. Arnott is your old-school power forward type who doesn’t score off skillful plays. Though the goal he scored in double overtime to beat the Dallas Stars in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals was pretty nice.
Anyway, through all the talk and speculation I just never got excited about the thought of him wearing black and gold. I feared that Shero would have to give up a roster player to get him and let’s be honest, there’s not many healthy bodies in the current lineup to deal away.
Which brings me to my point. Other teams made moves to add insurance to their roster. The Washington Capitals went out and got Dennis Wideman most likely because their star offensive defenseman Mike Green was the victim of a headshot last week. He’s expected to only be out a week, but so was Sidney Crosby.
They also scooped up Arnott for David Steckel as the deadline neared.
Shero knows most of the currently injured Penguins are on the mend and should be back soon. When this team was fully healthy, they ripped off 12 straight wins and rocketed to the top spot in the entire league. Obviously, Evgeni Malkin won’t be back this season, but the fact remains that this team is a force even when operating at near full capacity.
Currently injured are: Crosby (concussion), Malkin (knee surgery), Chris Kunitz (lower-body), Arron Asham (concussion), Eric Tangradi (concussion symptoms), Nick Johnson (upper-body), Mike Comrie (hip), Paul Martin (upper-body) and Brooks Orpik (broken finger).
Of them, Martin and Kunitz and the next likely guys to return to the lineup. Martin could be good to go as early as Wednesday. For those who wish the Pens would have done some wheeling and dealing today, think of Martin as a solid addition.
When Kunitz comes back, there’s a top six forward that many teams around the league were trying to land today. When Orpik comes back in a couple weeks, there’s your big, bruising, shutdown defenseman you want during a playoff run.
If Comrie returns, he’s another borderline top six forward and showed moments of brilliance during the preseason. Let’s not forget he’s also lacking a contract for next season and a return to the lineup would give him limited time to prove himself worthy of one.
Oh, and then there’s that Crosby fellow everyone keeps telling me is the best player in the world. So, if he comes back you have your blockbuster deal that landed an elite player that strikes fear into opponents.
What did Shero have to give up to land those guys? Absolutely nothing.
Get my point?
Even without Malkin, this is a dangerous team and that’s saying a lot about the makeup of the roster when they can lose a guy like Geno and not have it completely cripple their chances.
The truth is, Shero didn’t need to make a deal today. The additions of James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Kovalev last week were Pittsburgh’s deadline moves. Now, I’m sure he kicked the tires on some deals today and spoke with many of his fellow general managers. However, the pressure to make a deal, like in previous years, clearly wasn’t there this time around.
He’s molded the Penguins into a team that will compete for the Stanley Cup for years to come and he’s not going to sacrifice the future because of a few injuries.
Sometimes, staying the course is the right move.
In Shero We Trust.
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens.