Was 2014 Ray Shero's Greatest Trade Deadline? by @PandaPSU - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Was 2014 Ray Shero's Greatest Trade Deadline? by @PandaPSU

(Photo courtesy of PittsburghMagazine.com)
Ray Shero is widely regarded as one of the NHL's greatest GMs. He was very successful in Nashville, leading the club to their first playoff appearance and setting the table for their 2005-06 season where they broke the 100 point mark. During his tenure with the Penguins, he helped keep the franchise in Pittsburgh instead of relocating, and in 2009, he helped the team achieve their first Stanley Cup since 1992. He also made some trades that turned out to be incredibly lopsided in the Penguins' favor. No trade deadline may have been more impressive than this season.

(Photo courtesy of PostGazette.com)
Ray Shero started his trade deadline magic in his first season in his role as Penguins GM.  In February of 2007, Shero dealt defenseman Noah Welch to Florida in exchange for veteran and fan-favorite, Gary Roberts. He also acquired Georges Laraque. Both players, but in particular Roberts, helped lead a young Penguins team to their first consecutive playoff appearances since 2001.

(Photo courtesy of NHLSnipers.com)
Arguably Shero's biggest trade came in 2008 when he shocked the hockey world by dealing Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, and Angelo Esposito to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. Hossa was the most coveted player that year. He helped an already star-laden Penguins team to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to Detroit in Game 6. He left the next year, but the Penguins still got great value out of the trade through the maturation of Pascal Dupuis. Additionally, Hal Gill was signed that same season for two draft picks.

(Photo courtesy of SportingNews.com)
Shero continued making a big splash in 2009 as he traded Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi. While Eric Tangradi never played out for the Penguins, Chris Kunitz has become one of the NHL's best forwards. He is coming off the best season of his career where he is second on the team with goals at 35 (1 behind Sidney Crosby) and won a gold medal with Team Canada in Sochi. Also at this trade deadline, Shero brought in a veteran leader and fan-favorite in Billy Guerin for a fourth-round draft pick. Guerin was an essential part to the Penguins Stanley Cup run in 2009 playing alongside Sidney Crosby.

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
If the Hossa/Dupuis trade was 1A, and the Kunitz/Tangradi trade was 1B, then the James Neal and Matt Niskanen acquisition for Alex Goligoski trade is 1C in terms of Shero's greatest deadline deals. Alex Goligoski was a good puck-moving defenseman for the Pens, but he was expendable with the depth of the Penguins at this position. Not only did Shero acquire a defenseman that equaled that of Goligoski, he received a solid and talented top-six forward in James Neal. 

(Photo courtesy of the Edmonton Journal)
Who could possibly forget the whirlwind trade deadline of 2013? After a lockout-shortened season, the Penguins went "all-in" by acquiring a rugged defenseman in Douglas Murray, the Dallas Stars captain in Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen from Carolina, and the prize of the 2013 deadline in Jarome Iginla. While the Penguins ultimately went on to the Eastern Conference Finals and were swept by the Bruins, it was not a total loss for Shero. Jokinen has proved to be a valuable asset and a great value top-six forward playing alongside Evgeni Malkin. He will be a coveted free agent target for Shero this offseason.

(Photo courtesy of NHLSnipers.com)
As we entered into the weeks leading up to the 2014 trade deadline, it was easy to expect huge things from Ray Shero. The Penguins came into the trade deadline with some gaping holes thanks in large part to the league-leading 529 man games lost. The Penguins needed some defensive help. Kris Letang and Paul Martin were out with injuries, and some of the younger defensemen from the AHL did not appear to be ready. Pascal Dupuis suffered a torn ACL on a freak injury after Sidney Crosby fell onto his leg, and this happened with Beau Bennett already out of the lineup with a serious wrist injury. The Penguins also were limping to the finish line with arguably the worst bottom six since the 2006 season. As the deadline neared, things started to heat up and the Penguins were linked to some big names. Names surfaced like Ales Hemsky, Marek Zidlicky, and the prize of this season's trade deadline, Ryan Kesler. These three names would fill all of the holes the Penguins had. Based on previous seasons, it was almost expected for Shero to pull the trigger on at least one of these deals. But Shero showed some versatility and did something the city and fanbase and not seen in years prior... he showed RESTRAINT. Shero ultimately brought in Lee Stempniak and Marcel Goc. They were "small" moves, especially given Shero's history. The Penguins were also marked in the "loser" column in many of the experts' trade deadline grades. 

Shero was able to look into his crystal ball and see that many of the Penguins' needs could be filled internally. Beau Bennett returned at the end of April and was able to fill that top-six void. Paul Martin and Kris Letang also returned to shore-up a defensive unit that has been a revolving door for most of the season. By bringing in Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak, the Penguins were able to get some depth while giving up very little. Shero did an excellent job of not being near-sighted and giving up a prospect like Derrick Pouliot. It may be hard to envision, but while nothing flashy happened this past trade deadline, I believe it was Shero's greatest deadline. He did not leave the cupboards bare, and his restraint will allow the Penguins to go after some of the big fish, like Kesler, this offseason when the salary cap increases. It is just another feather in the cap of one of the NHL's most successful GMs.

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