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Penguins Report: Trade Deadline 2011

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens stand pat on deadline day, no trades (3:18 PM).
  • The takeaway from Ray Shero on deadline day (4:37 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma’s injury/missing persons report (12:08 PM).
  • Kennedy, Kovalev, Brent Johnson did not practice (10:40 AM).
  • State of the Union Address (4:25 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the current roster, Kovalev and Crosby (12:48 PM).
  • Letestu, Martin and Staal spit knowledge (12:56 PM).
  • Good joke on Kovalev (2:44 PM).
  • Shero’s past deadline moves (10:06 AM).
  • trade tracker (2:35 PM).
  • Missing glass (10:54 AM).
  • Crew sets up for Disney Princesses (1:41 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:19 AM).
  • “Let’s go back, back to the beginning…” (1:08 PM).
  • “I wanted freedom, bound and restricted. I tried to give you up, but I’m addicted…” (10:00 AM).

4:37 PM:
Notables from Shero:
  • I really wasn't looking to detract from our team. I didn't want to move players off.
  • The prices were somewhat high, but there really wasn't (anyone) that we saw as a real fit for us.
  • Our trade deadline was a week ago with Niskanen, Neal and Kovalev.
  • I would anticipate Dustin Jeffrey being (in Pittsburgh) for the rest of the year.
  • There’s a couple things that came our way over the last day or two to bring a guy into our locker room that we weren’t sure of. So we decided to stay with what we have.
  • I can say Eric Tangradi has never been offered in a trade.

4:25 PM:
State of the Union Address: Ray Shero...

On how close he was to doing anything before the deadline and if high prices were a deterrent:
We had talked to a lot of teams today like we did over the last couple of days to see what was out there. I really wasn’t looking to detract from our team. I didn’t want to move players off. We have a number of guys that are injured and hopefully are coming back shortly. But yeah, the prices were somewhat high, but there really wasn’t (anyone) that we saw as a real fit for us. So we wanted to stay with our group. And I think our trade deadline, as we know, was probably a week or so ago with Niskanen and Neal, and obviously with Kovalev. So we’re happy with those moves, and we’re going to move forward with this group right here.

On where Dustin Jeffrey fits in for the rest of this season:
I would anticipate Dustin being here for the rest of the year. So he’ll be a guy that’s called up, and he’s really made good strides here this year with our injuries with Malkin and Crosby. Guys like him and Mark Letestu, this is going to be a great opportunity for them to gain experience and continue to obviously perform for us. They’ve both been good additions for us and it was nice to see them put up a couple goals the other night. So yeah, we’ll be moving forward with him and Mark.

On all of the action before the trade deadline being an aberration or if this is what it’s going to be like going forward with the salary cap:
There were just more bigger deals, I guess hockey deals as they call them, within the last couple weeks. I don’t think we’ve seen a No. 1 overall pick traded in a while, and that’s being Erik Johnson with young guys like Chris Stewart getting traded, James Neal getting traded, (Alex) Goligoski getting traded. I’m not sure if that’s going to be a trend in the future, but this certainly was different than it was in the past years. It was a pretty slow day on some of the Canadian networks. I looked and they were redoing the 2010 deadline, I thought I missed something there. So it was pretty slow. But a lot of guys still changed hands today. And I talked to our coaches a lot about this over the last couple days that if this is the group we have moving forward, and we get back some of our injured players, that we’re comfortable with what we have. (With) the addition of Neal, Niskanen, and Kovalev – we’re going to move forward with this group.

On if the fact that Washington got active made them waver at all:
No, I mean, this is all about our team. As I said, our moves, we did stand pat today, we didn’t stand pat a week ago, and that was a move for this year and the future. But we’re happy with our team, and what other teams do, you really can’t control. If we had gone out and gotten someone, that another team is going to go out and try to counter that move, you’ve got to do what’s best for your own team. And we do have a group of guys that we’ve added some skill up front in Neal and Kovalev, and obviously on the back end, some insurance with Niskanen, who’s fit in nicely so far for us, and we’re a group that we’ve got guys that have won here. I trust these players, guys that have won Cups have been a big part of it, and they’ve grinded some points out here. And what was available, what the cost was – looking forward I didn’t think it was going to be worth it for this hockey team and I trust the players that we have here.

On if the moves were the same with or without Crosby:
With or without Sid, yes. And look at our center icemen – I think of Letestu and Jeffrey. This is a great opportunity to gain this experience. And the important thing for us is that they bring a positive contribution to our hockey team at both ends of the ice. We were pretty excited to have them both back the other night. So we’re looking forward to that.

On assessing how the new players impacted the team:
Starting on the back end, I think Niskanen is a good fit. I think it’s hard for a defenseman to come in right away and pick up the way we play our defense. I know Niskanen spent a lot of time with the coaches, Todd Reirden in particular. But I like what he’s brought to the team. And as we move forward, I think things will continue to get better for him. He helps solidify our back end with injuries to Martin and Brooks Orpik. And up front with James Neal, I’m excited to have him for the short term and the long term in the way he skates, his size and he can shoot the puck. And he’s going to be really good with good players. That’s good for now and in the long term. With Kovalev, he kind of brings what we don’t have – and that’s a great deal of skill. That’s probably the first back pass he made the other night that I’ve seen we make all year to our team. It’s great to see him score a goal and great to see him score the shootout winner. Not that many guys are going to roof it like that. I think he’s excited to be here. Like I said, the risk reward on that is worth it, and he’s another guy that wants to be in Pittsburgh. So I’m happy to add him.

On if he has ever been a part of a team with this many injuries or anything like it:
I don’t know. Everything is different. This team is different than teams I’ve been with in the past. The thing that we have with this team is that the guys we have that have been here have won. And I think we see it right now. It’s a character group of guys. They work really hard for each other, and they care for each other. There’s a couple things that came our way over the last day or two to bring a guy into our locker room that we weren’t sure of. So we decided to stay with what we have. Whether it’s giving some of our younger guys an opportunity.  Some of these guys I’ve had cups of coffee with, like Joe Vitale – a center iceman that’s done a good job with us. And we’re going to stick with Jeffrey and Letestu and I think down the line it’s going to pay dividends for us. That’s the way we wanted to go. There are reports out there that we had guys available, and Eric Tangradi’s name is out there. I can say Eric Tangradi has never been offered in a trade. So I wasn’t looking to trade Eric. I look forward to having him back healthy at some point and have him in our organization for a while moving forward.

Born superstars: Michelle Crechiolo & Tony Jovenitti

3:18 PM:
No trades for the Pens. The team is going to battle with the troops that they have currently. Shero is going to address the media at 3:30 p.m.

3:01 PM:
The deadline has come and gone. There are a lot of last-minute deals that take place in the closing minutes that won't become official until well after, so stay tuned for any updates.

2:44 PM:
Great joke in the locker room today. Kovalev, who missed Monday's practice because his flight from Ottawa was delayed, showed up late to CONSOL Energy Center. A member of the Pens staff asked, "Kovy, you missed practice. You know we don't play at Mellon anymore, right?"

2:35 PM:
Less than a half hour away from the deadline. There were quite a few trades so far today. has been tracking them.

The Panthers have been the busiest team, trading away Radek Dvorak, Dennis Wideman, Brad Winchester and 5th-round pick for Niclas Bergfors, Patrick Rissmiller, Jake Hauswirth, Sergei Samsonov and 3rd-round pick.

1:41 PM:
The CONSOL Energy Center crew is breaking down the ice. I've been informed that Disney's Princesses on Ice will be here. If I run into Princess Jasmine backstage I'm totally gonna ask for her digits.

1:08 PM:
After last night's rainstorm, Michelle Crechiolo was begging me to play Hilary Duff's "Let the Rain Fall Down." (Oops, guess the song is actually called "Come Clean." My sincerest apologies - said with a slight hint of sarcasm). So for Meesh and all you Duff fans out there (I'm talking to you Jason Seidling), here you go. Enjoy.

12:56 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Mark Letestu

On how he’s feeling:
It’s nice being out there and contributing with a goal. I think confidence is getting better in this room. I think every day we’re seeing guys get healthy and bringing guys in. It’s a good feeling in this room right now.

On if there was a sense of frustration:
There was some frustration with the games that we lost in overtime and shootouts, we thought we played well. We didn’t get a bounce here and there, and we didn’t get the result we wanted. Maybe there was frustration that way. But the older guys in the room and the coaches just told us to stick with it, and we ended up with six (goals) the next night. So it seems to balance out.

On meshing with the new players:
I think last year going up and down all the time and playing with different guys every night, I think it kind of prepared me for that. These guys are pros. They have been in the league for a while. They’ve made adjustments, and obviously changing to our system will take a bit of time, but I’m sure they’ll assimilate nicely.

Paul Martin 

On how he’s feeling:
I’m still a little bit weak. I’m not too concerned about the injury. It’s just the strength thing that needs to come back.

On when he hopes to come back:
Hopefully Wednesday. Today was the first actual practice, with getting hit and everything. We’ll see how it responds (Tuesday) and hopefully I’ll be good for Wednesday.

On how practice went:
It felt good. It’s a little more fun practicing with the guys and knowing you’re getting close.

On trying not to rush getting back:
It’s tough. You want the guys to be healthy in the lineup down the stretch, and you want to be ready for the push. But at the same time, those injuries are something you want to make sure you don’t have to deal with in the last 15 games. It’s just kind of a fine line and finding a balance. We have so many guys out it’s tough not to try to get back into the lineup as quick as you can.

On what Brooks Orpik’s presence means to the lineup:
He’s a guy that just commands a lot of respect. If there’s something that needs to be said, he says it. He’s kind of the guy that leads by example. He works hard. To have that guy out is tough. Everyone has to come together to try to make up for it, which you can’t do, but you have to do your best.

Jordan Staal

On what Maxime Talbot brings to the team:
Max has been here since I’ve been here. Theres no question he’s one of a kind. He’s a great guy to have in the room. He creates a lot of energy for our team, and he gets guys going. Obviously, he hasn’t put up the same numbers as he usually does, but he does a lot of other things well, too.

On how long it takes players to mesh with new linemates:
It’s not going to be right away. It’s tough for those guys. It’s a new system and a new way to play, and it makes it difficult for them. Hopefully, in these next few games they’ll really start to feel comfortable in the way we play and what we want to accomplish out there, and then their talent will start to come through.

On figuring out the line combinations in a situation like this:
Yeah, sometimes it’s nice to shake it up for the lineups, but at the same time you want to try to find some consistency and get some chemistry through the lineup. That’s the coach’s job, and it’s a fine line. Hopefully, we have the right lineup right now.

Loves capital H.I.M.: Tony Jovenitti

12:48 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On going through trade deadline day as a coach:
This is not something that happens overnight or just today for the staff, for the scouts and for Ray. We’ve been in conversations for a couple weeks with anticipation for the deadline day. We had meetings yesterday for most of the day for where we’re at, what we need, implications, those types of things. They go on quite regularly. It’s not something that happens just yesterday or today. As a coaching staff, we’re operating as getting ready for Toronto in today’s practice and tomorrow. Then playing three (games) in four (days) this week.

On if he’s comfortable with the roster as is:
The answer to your question is yes, I’m comfortable with the roster. I like the way our team plays. I like our mentality. I like our work ethic. I like the pieces we have. They give us a chance to have success. I looked at our board yesterday and think that’s a lineup we plan on winning four games in the first round of the playoffs and getting out of the second round. That’s a group we can do that with. I like the identiy of our team. I like the mentality of our team and the way we work. I like and believe, and our players believe, that we can be a good team.

On if he had his first Alex Kovalev moment yet
There were some times when I thought the puck management could be different, so I guess if that’s the moment. If the shootout goal was the moment, if the goal was the moment, I had those moments too. He also made the pass to Mark Letestu in overtime. It was more than once where there were areas of the ice that puck management is something we’re going to look at together. But that’s not any different than our other players as well. It’s not just exclusive to one or two plays he made and no one else did. That’s a part of how we play and adds to how we can play, so he’s been very clear that he wants to make sure that he understands what’s expected of him and where he doesn’t do well, and if he needs to change anything. So it will be an open dialogue, just as it is with every player.

On what Martin’s potential return means to Kovalev’s role on the power play:

I think for now, we don’t know for sure what our lineup is going to be for the Wednesday game. But if Paul Martin were to play, we’re probably going to favor going with those three players on the point position for the two minutes. So that’s similar to the way it was with Alex and Paul – Alex Goligoski that is – and Kris Letang. The three of them shared the four minutes of ice time.

On Kovalev being a candidate for the half wall:
Yep, he would be. I prefer him possibly to be on the first unit on the point than to be on the half wall on a second unit. But yes, that’s where he’s played the last two years with Ottawa, he’s played the half wall. He’s played the point more previously in his career, he did it for a number of years. So yes, that’s where he’s had his success most recently.

On if he is getting progressively less optimistic about getting Crosby back by the end of the regular season:
I don’t know the recovery time that you’re talking about. I don’t know what the steps are to get back. So to be honest, I haven’t given (a thought to) what ‘progressively’ means, we’re focused on right now. I get a report on how he’s doing, but we’re not talking about dates or timetables or projections into which month, which day, which time of the year (his return is) possible.

On if re-assigning players to WBS was procedural and if they could call someone back up soon:
Yes, some of it was procedural, and yes, someone possibly – depending on what the deadline is – could come back. If Alex was out there today, we only had 10 forwards. Eric Godard was the 10th forward out there today. So Alex would make 10. So we would possibly call up a player depending on what happens today.

Born this Way: Michelle Crechiolo

12:08 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma had a couple injury updates:
  • Alex Kovalev went home after the Toronto game to get more stuff for his stay in Pittsburgh. His flight was cancelled this morning due to weather, which is why he wasn't at practice.
  • Tyler Kennedy is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
  • Brent Johnson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
  • Chris Kunitz is not yet ready for full practice with the team
  • Nick Johnson, Eric Tangradi and Arron Asham are still out with concussions.

"Nick Johnson, Eric Tangradi, Arron Asham, still out with a concussion.

"Our goaltender Brent Johnson is day-to-day with a lower-body. Just a day of rest. Hopefully, we’ll see him on the ice (Tuesday), but he’s day-to-day.

"Alex Kovalev, we sent him home after the game in Toronto to get his stuff. He got some more stuff yesterday, and his flight today was cancelled due to the weather that we experienced last evening. That was why he wasn’t on the ice for practice.

"TK is lower-body and day-to-day at this point in time.

"Chris Kunitz still is not ready to progress back to full practice at this point in time. He’s been skating pretty heavily on his own. He’s not back to full contact practice."

11:19 AM:
Pens pics...

GM Shero (left); Letestu (right)

Neal (left); Engelland (right)

Rupp (left)

No glass behind the benches.

10:54 AM:
A new tweak here at CONSOL Energy Center for practice. If you'll look closely to the pic below there is no protective glass behind the team benches. The crews are still working to convert the building from the Lady Gaga concert Saturday night. But they're not complaining. "Don't be a drag, just be a queen."

10:40 AM:
The Pens are on the ice for their 10:30 a.m. practice at CONSOL Energy Center. The team will practice here Monday and Tuesday before hitting the road for the backend of their five-game road trip. Pittsburgh completes the trip with visits to Toronto (again), New Jersey and Boston.

At practice today, the Pens are missing Tyler Kennedy (who missed the team's Saturday game with a lower-body injury), Alex Kovalev and Brent Johnson.

10:19 AM:
Not sure if this is a sign of the salary cap era, but most teams have opted to trade assets in the days prior to the deadline. With teams up against the cap and having little wiggle room, it is probably easier and less hectic to make moves in the days ahead, rather than scrambling on deadline day and processing all of the paper work by 3 p.m. has done a great job of tracking all the moves so far. Here is their master list.

10:06 AM:
Pens GM Shero has always been an aggressive player at the trade deadline. So far this year has been no different. Here's a quick look back at Shero's deadline magic from the ghosts of the past.

2007 - Shero added Georges Laraque (Phoenix) and Gary Roberts (Florida) to help the team end a six-year playoff drought and laid the groundwork for future postseason success.

2008 - Shero made the biggest splash at the 2008 deadline when he traded for the crown jewel of that year's class in grabbing superstar Marian Hossa (Atlanta). In that same deal, Shero also brought in Pascal Dupuis - which was the steal of the deal. The Pens also added Hal Gill (Toronto) as the team went on to claim its first Eastern Conference title since 1992.

Ray Shero - Getty Images
2009 - Of course, Shero's wizardry at the '09 deadline lifted the Pens from the bottom of the standings en route to its third Stanley Cup championship. It was Shero's management decision of promoting Dan Bylsma as head coach that kick started the run, but it wouldn't have been possible if Shero hadn't added the proper pieces to the puzzle.

Shero started by trading for top-six forwards in Chris Kunitz (Anaheim) and Bill Guerin (NY Islanders) - as well as adding top prospect Eric Tangradi to the mix. The Pens then added a role player depth by claiming Craig Adams (Chicago) off waivers. A few months later, the team hoisted the Cup.

2010 - As the deadline approached the Pens were contending for an Atlantic Division title. Always trying to tweak his roster, Shero added two components to the mix in Jordan Leopold (Florida) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (Toronto). Though the deals weren't as earth shattering as previous years, they still showed Shero's willingness to do whatever he can to make his team better.

2011 - Already this year Shero has upgraded his NHL roster. First, in a trade with Dallas, he added a top-six power forward in James Neal, as well as maintaining depth at defense in Matt Niskanen. Then he upped the team's skill level by adding the dynamic talent of Alex Kovalev (Ottawa).

And Shero has said that he may not be done just yet. So as the 3 p.m. deadline approaches, we'll see if Shero has another card up his sleeve. To be continued...

10:00 AM:
Welcome to NHL Trade Deadline Day 2011! At 3 p.m. this afternoon trading season will be no mas – fin.

Unlike years past, in an unusual (and anticlimactic) turn of events, most of the major trades have taken place in the days prior to the deadline – leaving little drama for the day. And among those deals include the Penguins’ two major moves in acquiring James Neal and Matt Niskanen from Dallas and Alex Kovalev from Ottawa.

After trading for Kovalev, GM Ray Shero said the Pens still have money under the cap and would continued to entertain trades that would help strengthen the team. So we will sit and wait as Shero works his magic.

The clock is ticking and time is running out for NHL deals. That being the case, we’re going to kick off the day with Muse’s “Time is Running Out” – so apropos I know.

Muse is another British band (which will make Joe Prince-Wright happy as Larry). Muse is one of those bands that have been together for nearly two decades, but only hit it big five years ago.

“Time is Running Out” is off their album Origin of Symmetry, and is the first song I ever heard by Muse. At first I thought it was a new Radiohead release with the quirky guitar/bass tones and the screeching high-pitched vocals. Throughout Muse’s existence, the group has used a variety of instruments for a unique and experimental sound that still rocks hard.


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