Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

That Time of Year

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

That Time of Year

Article excerpt

The National Hockey League trade deadline arrives in exactly one month. * Penguins general manager Ray Shero believes that, by the time the cutoff for making deals arrives at 3 p.m., a lot of players will have new employers.

* * * *

"I think there will be a good number of trades," he said. "Every year, there's activity, because every team needs something.

"Or wants to do something."

Shero said a few days ago that there is "nothing imminent" for the Penguins and -- the recent flaws that have surfaced in their game aside -- there is not a specific hole on their depth chart they are known to be trying to fill.

It's possible that a top-six winger will make it onto their shopping list, although Beau Bennett has looked capable of growing into that role.

And it would not be shocking to see them go shopping for a little more veteran muscle in the defense corp.

Although there have been a few significant deals during the past couple of weeks, like the one that sent Michael Ryder back to Montreal and Erik Cole to Dallas Tuesday, teams still are largely in the process of identifying their most pressing needs and the best way of addressing them.

"Every team is starting to talk to each other, find out what's out there and what teams might be looking to do," Shero said.

"It's the time of year where you're getting a feel for what other teams are looking for, what they need."

The Penguins made the kind of move Monday some teams will be looking to pull off before the deadline when they signed free-agent defenseman Mark Eaton.

Whether he eventually will crack their top six remains to be seen, but, at the very least, Eaton provides veteran depth at a position where injuries are common. And the Penguins were able to add him without giving up anything more than his pro-rated, $750,000 salary.

Although the Penguins' pipeline is clogged with promising young defensemen, prospects such as Derrick Pouliot, Joseph Morrow, Scott Harrington and Olli Maatta couldn't realistically be counted on to assume a prominent role in the high-stakes setting of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That's why picking up a reliable, though often-injured, 35-year- old on a one-year contract made so much sense. …

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