by Tony on 02/18/11 at 01:41 PM ET
Well, it’s that time of year. The anticipation is building. The rumor mongers are coming out of the woodwork (thanks, Twitter).
Some pretty significant trades have already been made, some 10 days before the trade deadline on Feb. 28th. So in that respect it’s natural for Penguins fans to start getting antsy, especially since so many teams have already made at least one move to re-shape their rosters.
But for Pens’ GM Ray Shero, he’s got more than just your normal NHL GM things to consider when it comes to making any major moves as we get closer to the deadline.
He somehow needs to assess whether he’s going to have his franchise player available sometime this season.
From all accounts, Sidney Crosby’s concussion symptoms have still not disappeared. Even when those symptoms clear, that will only give Crosby clearance to workout, much less get back on the ice and get ready for the remainder of the season.
So with that in mind, it’s a huge decision to make for Shero.
He’s already without Evgeni Malkin, who admittedly was having a mediocre season before going down with a torn ACL and MCL. However, a mediocre Evgeni Malkin is still quite dangerous in the playoffs. His absence leaves quite the void in the Pens’ roster.
But with the Penguins already in need of better secondary scoring, and now without Malkin, that makes the continued absence of Crosby that much more critical of a decision for Shero on any roster moves.
This much is certain: If Crosby is shut down for the remainder of the year (and there is no indication of that yet), and already without Malkin as well, chances to win the Stanley Cup for the Penguins immediately go from decent to quite doubtful. That’s just being realistic, folks. Oh sure, they still have talent to not only ensure a playoff spot, and maybe win a series, but that’s about it. For all intents and purposes, if both Crosby and Malkin are out, it’s best to start building for next season.
One last and important part about making the playoffs, let’s not forget, making even the first round generates millions of dollars of additional income for the team.
So with that in mind, in my half-assed view, there’s two trains of thought:
Scenario #1. Crosby comes back, Shero trades for roster rental
- Another important aspect about any potential moves at the trade deadline, especially how it pertains to the Penguins is that both Crosby’s and Malkin’s salaries will be back on the books next season, and thereby their cap room will be back to slim. So unless Shero were to shed a decent amount of salary either during the trade deadline or during the offseason (read: Dupuis, Talbot, etc.), he won’t be able to add a significant salary. The salary cap is reported to go up a couple of million next season, so that may help Shero. But for the most part, any big ticket players that Shero were to acquire during the trade deadline would only be a rental.
Scenario #2. Crosby is out for the year, Shero makes a few minor moves
- As mentioned above, if Crosby is out for the year, forget about the Cup. Just being realistic. And if that is the case, I just don’t see Shero acquiring any rental players and thereby trading away assets (whether that be players or draft picks) for a team that probably can’t win the Cup. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, to see Shero make a few moves to tweak the roster a bit, not only for the remainder of the season but for next season as well. Let’s not forget, the Penguins have 10 UFA’s and 3 RFA’s after this season (counting recent callups). That’s a potential serious roster shakeup. Personally, and I’ve said this before, I’d like to see the Pens’ roster shift more towards scorers and away a bit of so many grinders.
So having said all that, it really doesn’t surprise me that GMRS hasn’t made any moves yet, although that could change if the reports of a certain former Russian Penguin coming back to roost come true. I think that Shero’s gonna take all the time he can and get the most up-to-date medical assessment on Crosby before he starts pulling the trigger on whatever significant moves he’s negotiating.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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