The Penguins roster will be grittier, more experienced and dangerous following the acquisition of right wing Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders before the NHL’s Wednesday 3 p.m. trade deadline.
“(Guerin) was really excited and ready to go,” general manager Ray Shero said. “I think he was obviously anticipating something. But when he found out it was Pittsburgh he was very excited about the ability to play with the group here.”
"I’m excited," Guerin said. "It’s a great opportunity to be part of a young, successful team. They’re playing their best hockey of the year right now. They’ve got great talent."
The Penguins sent a conditional fifth-round pick to New York for the rugged veteran. If Pittsburgh makes the playoffs, it becomes a fourth-round pick. If the Penguins win a playoff round and Guerin plays in 50 percent of the games, it will become a third-round pick.
The Penguins claimed forward Craig Adams
on waivers and acquired defenseman Andy Wozniewski from St. Louis for defenseman Danny Richmond. Guerin and Adams will be in the lineup for Pittsburgh when it faces the Florida Panthers Thursday at 7:30.
But it is Guerin, 38, who will have the most dynamic impact on the team. Guerin was originally drafted fifth overall in 1989 by New Jersey, has had stints with the Devils, Edmonton, Boston, Dallas, San Jose, St. Louis and New York.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound forward is a hard-nosed player and gifted finisher. Guerin has 403 goals and 799 points in 1,168 career NHL games in 17 seasons in the league.
“Billy brings that veteran presence,” Shero said. “He’s a right winger with a right shot, and he can still skate. I talked to him this afternoon after the trade and I told him what I was expecting of him. He’s a goal scorer. Billy Guerin can play with good players and score goals - he’s certainly done that in the past. I think we have the players for him to play with and support him.
"He has size. We wanted to get bigger and we wanted to get a little bit stronger up front and I believe that’s a good fit. Hopefully it’s a good move for both of us.”
"I'm looking forward to playing the up-tempo style," Guerin said. "I can still skate at my age. But I'm not going to change my style. My biggest asset is going to net. With the puck handlers that we have, I'm a guy that will go to the net and open up room for them. I have certain talents and other guys have certain talents. I like being in front of the net and in the slot."
In Guerin, the Penguins are getting a proven goal scorer, a strong power forward and a former Stanley Cup champion.
“He’s won in the past, and that’s our hope,” Shero said. “I’m hoping he’s going to be able to re-energize his career here with Pittsburgh. In the situation with Long Island maybe it wasn’t going the way he wanted or hoped. Now with a chance to be in the playoffs hopefully he’s going be a big factor for us.”
Guerin and Adams join Chris Kunitz
, who was acquired from Anaheim for defenseman Ryan Whitney Feb. 26, as the newest Penguins forwards. Pittsburgh dealt from a position of strength at defense and used a draft pick to improve its depth and experience at wing.
"We still have a really young group," Shero said. "Getting a Guerin, who has won and has experience, or getting a Craig Adams
who won a Cup in Carolina, that does help our group, It helps our experience. Chris Kunitz
brings the same thing. It’s like I said, I think we’ve solidified ourselves in that area. The experience can’t hurt."
While Kunitz and Guerin will both be top-six forwards, Adams is expected to see action on the team's fourth line.
"Craig has been a role guy," Shero said. "What we see in Adams, in taking a chance on him on waivers, is that he’s a right-handed shot. He’s 6-foot, 200 pounds. He can play left wing, right wing, center. He’s a versatile guy. He’s a gritty guy and he solidifies our fourth line and depth up front, which is important."
"It’s been a hectic day," said Adams, who was born in the independent country of Brunei. "My game is getting on the forecheck and being physical, try to be good defensively and do little things right. It’s been a whirlwind but I'm happy to be in Pittsburgh."
All in all, the Penguins improved their lineup without giving up anyone from the current roster. Pittsburgh added depth on its wing and has become a more complete team.
"We just take a look at our team and see what the holes may be and see if we can possibly fill them and I think we did that," Shero said. "I came into this deadline knowing what I wasn’t going to give up and that was important to me. There were a lot of names speculated out there from our team which were never going to happen at this deadline. And I wasn’t giving up a first- or second-round. So that was actually pretty beneficial for us because I knew what I did not want to give up and I think we accomplished that by acquiring a few players here."