A pair of teams chasing the Philadelphia Flyers made deals Thursday, and it might not be the last from either of them. The Pittsburgh Penguins added Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional late-round draft choice while the Tampa Bay Lightning sent backup goaltender Dan Ellis to Anaheim for goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Pittsburgh has been ravaged by injuries at forward. There are currently eight guys up front out with injuries, though Dustin Jeffrey is expected back soon. Evgeni Malkin is done for the season, but each of the other six could be back at some point.
Because Sidney Crosby is still out because of a concussion, the cap space opened up by his and Malkin's absence means the Penguins could make another move even after taking on salary in the trade for James Neal and Matt Niskanen and the Kovalev addition.
"Yes and yes," GM Ray Shero said to reporters when asked if he still had cap space and still was interested in making more moves. "We'll continue to look to see by Monday what we can do. We've got two games back-to-back here and we'll see what our injury situation is. We're getting guys closer, but it seems like as soon as we play a game we lose another guy so we'll see."
The injury problems have caught up with the defense corps as well. Paul Martin is out with an upper-body injury, but Shero said he could be back after this weekend. Brooks Orpik is now expected to be out for at least four weeks with a broken finger.
Shero didn't sound optimistic about being able to add another defenseman.
"The cost, asset-wise, to get a defenseman in the League right now is pretty high," Shero said. "I think we have some guys, no different than when we gave our guys opportunities from Wilkes-Barre up front, we've got guys in Wilkes-Barre who have played well for us on defense that are either are draft picks or our free agents that have performed well. They are certainly deserving of a chance, given this window of opportunity, to come up here and play for us.
"Outside of something coming my way that's not there right now, I don't anticipate picking up a defenseman at this point, but we'll see. You never know what could happen by Monday at 3 p.m."
Meanwhile, shedding Ellis' contract gives Tampa Bay more room in the budget to help make another deal if GM Steve Yzerman were so inclined. Cap space isn't a concern, but actual dollars spent could be. The Lightning have reportedly put Mike Smith on re-entry waivers, so if he isn't claimed he'll return to the big club to back up Dwayne Roloson.
The Lightning have already added Roloson and defenseman Eric Brewer in 2011, but another defenseman or a depth forward could make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay.
"I can't say that I have anything else in the works because I don't have anything else in the works," Yzerman told Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune. "But things come about pretty quickly, so we'll continue to work the phone here and see what other teams are looking to do.
"We'll wait and see what happens with Mike and then we'll wait and see what happens with our goalies at that point."