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The Pittsburgh Penguins were good before Tuesday’s NHL Trading Deadline.
General Manager Ray Shero believes the team is even better after it.
Of course, adding wingers Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Hal Gill to the roster certainly backs up that statement.
Hossa, who had 56 points (26+30) in 60 games with Atlanta, is the most-coveted player in the deal. Many teams pursued the Slovakian right winger. However, Shero was surprised he was able to acquire the talented 28-year-old.
“This is a deal that was made more or less at the last minute. The chances a month ago for us to get Marian Hossa was about five percent,” he said. “I think he is a world-class player. He’s going to be a huge asset for our team.”
Shero has a history with Hossa. An assistant general manager with Ottawa, Shero was part of the Senators staff that selected Hossa 12th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, which was held, coincidentally, at Mellon Arena.
Hossa is thrilled to join the Penguins’ talented young team.
“I’m really looking forward to joining this group,” he said. “You look at the centermen and you have Sid, Malkin and Staal. They are some really strong, great young players. They have good goaltending and good moving defensemen. They create lots of offense. I am really looking forward to playing with these guys.”
Hossa may play on a line with Crosby once he returns to the lineup from a high ankle sprain.
“I don’t know who I will play with. If I play with Sid, that’d be great,” Hossa said. “He is the best centerman in the league and it’d be a pleasure to play with him.”
Meanwhile, Dupuis a 27-year-old left winger, brings more speed to the Penguins’ lineup. He had 15 points (10+5) in 62 games with Atlanta.
“He’s a guy with really good speed and is a good penalty killer,” Shero said. “I think he will bring speed and do a good job on the PK for us.”
Meanwhile, Gill, a 6-7, 250-pound blueliner, brings a physical presence to the Penguins’ defense.
“He’s a good shot blocker and he’s had playoff success,” Shero said. “He’s a big guy to play against bigger players. I think he will match up well with bigger players.”
Penalty killing is one area Shero hoped to upgrade. The Penguins ranked near the bottom of the league in that department and Hossa, Dupuis and Gill are all proficient at killing penalties.
“That’s an area I wanted to upgrade at the deadline. Marian, Pascal and Hal are some of the better penalty killers,” Shero said.
Of course, to acquire such talent, the Penguins had to give up assets in return. They sent Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 2008 first-round pick to Atlanta for Hossa and Dupuis and a 2008 second-round pick and a 2009 fifth-round choice to Toronto for Gill.
“I think this gives us a better chance. I do believe we have a talent base that allows us to compete long term. I don’t think by acquiring Hossa, Dupuis and Gill stops that. We have young assets, so the cupboards aren’t bare. We still can be a long-term contender and happy about it,” Shero said. “The bigger picture is there is risk in anything you do. I feel very confident in our team right now and I want to give it every opportunity to win. At the same time, I do think we’re still set up long-term very well. Hopefully, we’ll get the best of both worlds.”