I hope Ray Shero is enjoying his day today. If not, he should be. Once again he has made an inconceivable trade take place acquiring Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames and essentially prying him away from the jaws of the Boston Bruins. Shero has been here before, many times, more even than Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, who has turned the trade deadline into an art form. Ray Shero is the newly crowned ‘King of the Deadline’.
The deadline truly is one of the most trying times for GMs in their often short careers. It is a high pressure situation, often with plenty of major consequences. The fans, aided by detailed reports from the media, plead with their GM to take a stab at the biggest fish in the market, even if it will not necessarily benefit their team or doesn’t fit under cap restrictions. Teams are often not considered “legitimate contenders” if they do not invest in rental players who will provide their services in the playoffs. All the while potential deals are floated around, some true some entirely false.
Shero’s first trade deadline came during the 2006-07 season. From the very start he was busy, making five minor moves in the interest of strengthening his growing club. The biggest move he made of the five was acquiring veteran Gary Roberts from the Florida Panthers in exchange for prospect Noah Welch. The latter has never really stuck in the NHL. As for Roberts he was never brought as an offensive option, but rather a veteran presence. He was ultimately a major mentor for the Penguins young team, and was a player who led by example. While he moved to Tampa Bay before the Penguins could win the Cup, his fingerprints were still all over the trophy, and his lessons were key in its acquisition.
While he made fewer moves the next time around, in 2007-08 the magnitude of his trades cannot be understated. His first move was to trade a second and a fifth rounder to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defensive defenseman Hal Gill. While at the time Gill was considered a slow and less then dependable player he caught fire with the Penguins. His play was absolutely crucial to the Cup victory the next season, his leadership yet another asset.
But it would be the next trade that could be Shero’s biggest trade deadline victory. On deadline day he acquired Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 1st round pick (Daultan Levielle). The statistics and the quality of this trade alone are incredible. Marian Hossa, the centre of the trade, turned out to be a one-year rental. Once an afterthought of the trade, it has been Dupuis who truly took centre stage. He alone has more points with the Penguins than all of the players traded combined had as members of the Thrashers organization. He was crucial in their cup run and remains one of the most underrated players on their roster to this day.
2008-09 was the year that everything came together for Shero and Penguins. After losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals the year before they defeated that same team in seven games to win the franchises’s third cup. While the deadline in 2008-09 didn’t see much dealing from Shero, two moves in all, it once again saw one that was significant. He added highly talented veteran Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Guerin would play an important role in the Penguins Cup run adding leadership and ultimately immense secondary scoring with 15 points in 24 playoff games.
2009-10 was a forgettable deadline in Shero’s GM tenure although he did acquire both Alexei Ponikarosky and Jordan Leopold from Florida but both were largely rentals who did not stay longterm. But in 2010-11 he would rebound with yet another of his massive acquisitions. In the days leading up to the deadline Shero would send elite offensive defenceman Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Matt Niskanen and James Neal. Niskanen has developed into a solid defender for the Stars but evidently it is Neal who has been the true star in the deal. Neal helped to bring out the best in Evgeni Malkin and when the star returns they will once again become one of the most fearsome duos in the entire league. A certain veteran named Alex Kovalev was also acquired.
Last year was the least eventful deadline in Shero’s GM tenure – he didn’t do anything at all. But as they say things are most calm before the storm. This year Ray Shero has once again been working his magic at the deadline table, trying to make his East leading Penguins an even more fearsome opposition. So far he has more than succeeded. The Penguins were able to add leadership and offensive depth by acquiring Brenden Morrow and did the same thing when he added Douglas Murray to the team’s backline.
However, it was his landing of the biggest fish in the market that will truly define Shero’s 2012-13 deadline. With Jarome Iginla the Penguins now have the undisputed best offense in the league, one so incredible that it seems almost impossible that they were able to do it under the league’s Salary Cap. But once again Shero has proven he is unafraid to pull the trigger in very hostile territory. An incredible asset and one of the many reasons the Penguins have been the best team in hockey since 2008.
Peter Chiarelli felt that he was played by the Flames who seemed all but certain that a move including Iginla could be done. But in truth it was Shero who once again proved his GM abilities. Chiarelli lost out to the true master of the NHL trade deadline.
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