When Ray Shero's name shows up on another general manager's cell phone in the days before the NHL Trade Deadline, and the device is ringing, it might not be the worst idea to let it go to voicemail.
Shero is at it again, wheeling and dealing before the April 3 deadline. The Pittsburgh Penguins GM already had a team atop the Eastern Conference standings, but he added a trio of 2010 Olympians in former captains Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla and rugged defenseman Douglas Murray.
This is another similar chapter in the story of Shero's tenure in Pittsburgh. Simply put, no other GM in the NHL works magic at the deadline like Shero.
"The job of the manager with the help of ownership and help of the players is to try to win. That's what we're trying to do," Shero told reporters Thursday. "It doesn't guarantee anything, guarantee you have a good team, but we have a good bunch of guys and hopefully things come together."
While the foundation of the Penguins are the players who were drafted before Shero arrived -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang -- there are six players on the current roster who predate his arrival in May 2006. In nearly every season since, Shero has been willing to make bold moves at the deadline and his success rate is incredible.
What makes Shero's moves even more remarkable is how many of the additions proved to be more than rentals. Given his track record, it is fair to expect that at least one of Iginla, Morrow and Murray will be back next season with the Penguins.
Here's a breakdown of Shero's deadline dealings:
Roberts became a cult hero in Pittsburgh. Ask any of the players who were on those back-to-back Stanley Cup Final teams and they'll say his leadership and training regimen played a key role in the final development stages for the team's young stars. He also was part of the first Cup Final team the following season.
2008: Shero makes one of the biggest deals in recent deadline history, adding Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round pick. Hossa racked up 26 playoff points, though he did end up being a rental. Dupuis has been the long-term success from that trade, becoming first a valuable role player and now a legitimate scoring wing. None of those pieces worked out for Atlanta/Winnipeg.
Shero also added Hal Gill from the Toronto Maple Leafs for two picks. Gill became part of the team's shutdown defensive pairing for both Cup Final runs.
Guerin became the new Roberts in the Penguins' dressing room, also providing valuable offensive contributions. The Washington Capitals also were reportedly interested in Guerin, and it is not a stretch to say that epic second-round playoff series in 2009 goes the other way if Guerin had gone to Washington instead of to Pittsburgh.
Even though Tangradi was a prized prospect who never worked out, Kunitz has become a top-six staple in Pittsburgh and is having his best season yet playing next to Crosby.
Ponikarovsky is probably Shero's worst deadline addition, but he didn't give up anything of value in the deal. Leopold was solid, but both he and Ponikarovsky moved on in the offseason.2011: Shero adds James Neal and Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars for Alex Goligoski, and Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators for a seventh-round pick.
Neal struggled to score, and Kovalev helped, but not enough to get the Penguins, sans Crosby and Malkin, out of the first round. Again, the value of Shero's moves went beyond the final weeks of that season. Neal has blossomed into one of the top snipers in hockey and Niskanen is a solid depth defenseman for the Penguins. Letang's emergence allowed Shero to move Goligoski, who has been uneven with Dallas.
2012: A rare deadline passes with no activity from Shero, partly because of the Penguins' salary-cap situation but also because Crosby had just returned a second time from his concussion/neck issue and the team was rolling.
2013: Shero adds Iginla from the Calgary Flames for two prospects and a first-round pick, Morrow from the Dallas Stars for top prospect Joe Morrow and a pick swap, and Murray from the San Jose Sharks for two picks.
These moves were made possible by deft work last summer. When Jordan Staal wasn't ready to commit to a long-term deal, Shero traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, defense prospect Brian Dumoulin and a first-round pick (defenseman Derrick Pouliot). Shero also shipped defenseman Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes.
The moves added two quality defense prospects to one of the League's deepest stables at the position, and saved $9 million in cap space. That money was originally planned for a run at Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but when the duo signed with the Minnesota Wild, it left the League's best deadline GM with a bounty of cap space to use -- and the moves this week are the fruit from that.
With Iginla, Morrow and Murray in tow, the first-place Penguins have gone from one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup to drawing comparisons to the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings, one of the most talented teams of the past 20 years.
"Yeah, the pressure is on, but that's the way it goes," Shero said. "If you're in 15th place, the pressure is on. We are where we are. I like the position we're in, but we've got a long way to go.
"The good news is that we do have a month to come together as a team on and off the ice, find our roles and find our identity on or off the ice."
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