The NHL’s annual trading deadline is March 5, a mere eight days away. And Penguins general manager Ray Shero has some decisions to make.
Shero, the reigning NHL General Manager of the Year, is always highly active around deadline day since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2006. He’s pulled the trigger on the acquisitions of Marian Hossa, Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz, Gary Roberts and Jarome Iginla.
One area the Penguins may look to bolster at the deadline is their defensive corps, which has suffered various injuries throughout the season to key members such as Paul Martin, Brooks Oprik, Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang. At one point in the season the Penguins’ top-four blueliners were all out of the lineup.
The Penguins begin the post-Olympic break stretch without two of their top defensemen. Letang is out indefinitely after having a stroke Jan. 29. Martin will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand.
However, the cost to add a blueliner may be too steep for the Penguins to pay. And Shero said he is comfortable with the D-men on their current roster and those from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, who have been called into duty throughout the year due to injuries on the backend.
“At this point adding an NHL defenseman for any team is going to be difficult,” Shero said. “Going back two, three months with the injuries we’ve had has given these younger players opportunities and experience to possibly help us down the stretch here and in the playoffs.”
That being said, the team has to weigh the length of Letang’s injury. But with the deadline a mere week away, it may come down to an educated guess on the part of Shero and his staff on the best course of action.
“(Letang) hasn’t made a decision one way or the other whether he’s coming back or not. That possibly does exist,” Shero said. “With all the information I need to have on our injured players by next Wednesday, part of that is with Kris. I need to make an educated guess on if I think he can come back with the information we have at that point. I want to make that space available for Kris Letang so he can come back and play games prior to the playoffs.”
One thing is for sure, Shero has no plans to try and replace winger Pascal Dupuis, who is out for the season after having ACL surgery, and expected to make a full recovery for next season.
“Replacing Pascal Dupuis, I’m not sure that’s ever going to be possible,” Shero said. “In terms of this trade market there are only four teams that are out of the playoffs at this particular point. The assets to trade for players will be steep. It comes down to cap space and what you have available to add. Trying to replace Pascal Dupuis with a top-line winger would be far-fetched.”
Shero will have to consider many factors before making decisions on his roster.
“It’s a little bit of a guessing game for us, but we certainly have to have the most information we can have by March 5,” he said. “We have a lot of moving parts. We’re going to do the best we can.”