Pittsburgh needs to make a move, and general manager Ray Shero knows it.
Well, maybe he isn’t giving away any signals that they’re actively pursuing a deal, but history suggests it’s inevitable.
And as the trade deadline date of March 5th, approaches, everybody who’s anybody is itching to dive into the mind of last year’s NHL General Manager of the Year.
Shero is without question one of the most spontaneous GMs in league – if not thee most. He executes a trade however, wherever, whenever, and with whoever he wants.
Alliteration aside, he does it because he has a job to do – assemble a competitive group of players to vie for a Stanley Cup. That means, unless your name is Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, nobody is safe around the trade deadline.
Call it intuition, but Shero has a knack for surrendering talent in exchange for players with impending stardom. It’s not as if Shero’s plan is to rip-off opposing general managers, it’s just he knows a good deal when he sees one. And despite possibly departing with skaters he has high praise for, Shero keeps his eyes on the future.
Current forwards Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, defenseman Matt Niskanen and goaltender Tomas Vokoun are all products of that blueprint. In total, it costed Shero one mediocre defenseman, a blueliner whose been bouncing back-and-forth between the NHL and AHL, two forwards who are currently playing overseas, and two draft picks.
Which is absurd to even fathom.
When you think Pittsburgh isn’t even involved in trade talks for a prolific player on the market – think again.
That’s how the script was written when Shero swooped in to grab Marian Hossa a few years back, and recently Jarome Iginla at the last minute – two skaters presumed to be the best talents available.
People like to discuss how Shero might have struck out at last year’s deadline – because the pieces he acquired didn’t succeed in helping Pittsburgh hoist the ancient chalice – but if you analyze them, he hardly yielded anything.
When he surprised the hockey world by snatching Iginla out of thin air, Shero relinquished two forwards, Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski, who by all accounts weren’t the Pens’ top prospects, and a first-round selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft – which turned out to be the 28th overall pick.
Although first-round picks are valuable, due to the fact Pittsburgh has a high volume of talent and a bloated payroll, they’re nearly expendable to them. Especially considering it was a bottom of the round selection.
Forward Brenden Morrow was brought in, along with a third-round choice, for prospect defenseman Joe Morrow, who was their 2011 first rounder, and a fifth-round draft pick. Defenseman Douglas Murray only costed Shero a second-round draft pick, blah-blah-blah, you get the idea.
Shero is a bargain shopper.
What’s funny is Jussi Jokinen was considered a minor acquisition, yet is a perfect example of Shero’s greatness. Jokinen has 40 points so far this season, and that would place him second, four behind forward Eric Staal (44), on Carolina. And he was had for the price of a conditional sixth/seventh-round pick.
Shero’s trade happy habits have become almost a Pittsburgh’ tradition each and every year. So, who’s to say it’s going to be any different this time around.
Crosby doesn’t have a solidified right winger, the secondary scoring is pitiful, and there’s salary to save. Knowing all of this is prevalent, Shero just isn’t going to sit back and do nothing about it. And we can’t believe he’s content with this team heading into the postseason.
We also can’t trust him in general. He’s one of the most misleading general managers in the sport, and that’s not bashing him in any way. That just depicts how brilliant and low-key he is in not letting information leak to the media.
With that being said, we don’t know who is on his chopping block. However, don’t be stunned if Beau Bennett, Kris Letang, or any defensive prospect is wearing a different sweater in March, because they’re pieces that can reel in tremendous talent for not only the imminent future, but for years’ to come.
Only Shero knows the fates of who gets to stay and who packs their bags. Just don’t expect he’s not talking to other GMs about wielding a transaction.
He will trade, and he will amaze. Bet on it.