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Pens' GM prepping for potential

by Dan Rosen
Ray Shero told on Tuesday that he'll meet with his pro scouts in Pittsburgh this week to go over information that could prove useful before the trade deadline later this month. Shero said talks amongst all the general managers traditionally pick up steam coming out of the All-Star break, so he's getting himself prepared for some moving and shaking.

"I can only speak for myself and I've talked to a few (GMs)," Shero said. "I haven't talked to all the teams, but I have kept in touch with a few guys. With our team I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do so I'm not contacting every team. You do that a week or two before the deadline to make sure you're covering everything off, doing your due diligence, but it hasn't been that active now. As you get through the All-Star break it tends to pick up and we'll see that over the next few weeks of course."

Shero has been one of the more active deadline dealers in years past. He got Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and Hal Gill in 2008 and picked up Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz in 2009. The Penguins made it to the Stanley Cup Final in both seasons. He traded for Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold last season, but the Penguins were knocked out in the second round.

This deadline could be an interesting one for Shero because he's not 100 percent certain what area might need to be addressed.

Pittsburgh entered Tuesday sixth in the NHL in goals scored per game (3.02) and second in the League in goals allowed per game (2.24) despite playing only one complete game (the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic) with star centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal at full speed.

Crosby will miss his 10th straight game Tuesday with a concussion and Malkin will miss his fourth in a row with a sinus infection. Staal sat out the first 39 games of the season with foot and hand injuries.

The injuries have given guys like Mark Letestu, Chris Conner and Dustin Jeffrey opportunities in the top-six and on the power play that they otherwise would not have been afforded. The Penguins' depth has been tested, which is good for Shero because that's given him an opportunity to see what kind of role players he's got heading into the trade deadline.

Shero hasn't been afraid to go after the big splash (Hossa), but he's also found out that the smaller moves (Gill, Guerin) or throw-in players (Dupuis in the Hossa deal) have the ability to change the look of the team enough.

History suggests Shero will do something before Feb. 28, but he'll probably have a better idea of what that is after he meets with his scouts this week.

"We're built down the middle with our goaltending, defense and center iceman and we've played only two games with our three centers, so once we get them all back and healthy I think we'll have a pretty good hockey team," Shero said. "Having said that we're looking to improve, but it's the salary cap era and that might limit your player pool."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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