The New York Islanders traded the 38-year-old right wing to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday for a conditional 2009 Draft pick, ranging from a fifth-rounder if the Penguins miss the playoffs to a third-rounder if they get past the first round and Guerin plays in half the Pens' playoff games.
The trade ends four days of speculation that the Isles' captain would be dealt.
The rumors began swirling Saturday night, when Guerin was pulled from the lineup before the Isles' game with Buffalo after he took part in pre-game warmups. Two days earlier, Guerin told the team he would be willing to waive his no-movement clause for the right deal.
"I was talking with a team (and) it became evident to me that we would probably be in a situation where we were going to trade Bill by the deadline and I didn’t want to take the risk," General Manager Garth Snow said of the decision to have Guerin sit. "I spoke with Bill's agent and Bill himself. The risk of injury was something we wanted to avoid."No trade took place over the weekend, and Guerin was a healthy scratch for New York's 4-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
"It was a pretty painful process," Guerin told TSN. "We thought we had a deal done with another team a couple days ago. Then it just kind of made things a little awkward, so I sat here in limbo for four days or so just kind of waiting for something to happen. I've been through trade deadlines before and a lot of things wait until the last second to get things done."
Guerin, who signed a two-year deal with the Islanders in the summer of 2007 and was named captain days later, had 23 goals and 21 assists for 44 points last season, and was leading the team this season with 16 goals, and his 36 points was second.
"He's a great leader," Snow said. "It's tough for me because Bill is a good friend of mine. It's a tough part of the job for me when you have to do a move like this, with a player who's a close friend."The Penguins will be Guerin's eighth NHL team. He was dealt from the St. Louis Blues to the San Jose Sharks at the 2007 trade deadline, and then signed with the Isles that summer.
Guerin, New Jersey's first-round pick in the 1992 Entry Draft, won a Stanley Cup ring with the Devils in 1995. He scored his 400th NHL goal on Dec. 26 and has scored 20 or more for six NHL teams.
His offensive totals should improve with the Penguins, where he figures to get the chance to play with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, two of the NHL's top centers. Though he's 38, Guerin still has the wheels to play a top-six role on a team that wants to play an up-tempo game.
"I'm excited about going to Pittsburgh," he told TSN. "It's a great opportunity for me to go to a talented team like that with their experience in the (Stanley Cup) Final last year. They're in a dogfight right now for the playoffs, but they're playing great and I'm really looking forward to it."
The Penguins, last season's Eastern Conference champions, are 6-1-1 under new coach Dan Bylsma and have climbed into eighth place in the Eastern Conference with four consecutive wins -- all without star center Sidney Crosby, who's out with a groin injury but hopes to play this week. The Penguins hope adding Guerin will help them cement a playoff spot.
It's been a busy week for Penguins GM Ray Shero, who acquired forward Chris Kunitz from Anaheim last Thursday in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney. In addition to the Guerin trade Wednesday, the Penguins also claimed checking forward Craig Adams on waivers from Chicago. And in a swap of minor-league defensemen, they acquired Andy Wozniewski from St. Louis for Danny Richmond.
"I believe that the addition of Kunitz, and now Guerin, makes us a better team up front," Shero told the NHL Network. "I think we have some good upside, but there's a lot of good teams that we're fighting with. Every game is so meaningful; with 18 left, we're going to have to keep winning games. If we do get in (to the playoffs), I believe we have a good opportunity."
To make room on the roster, the Penguins sent forwards Bill Thomas and Miroslav Satan, a former teammate of Guerin's with the Isles, to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. The Penguins had signed Satan to a one-year contract last summer, but placed him on waivers Tuesday and sent him to the minors when he went unclaimed.