The Penguins have shown their talents on the ice for the past five months including an All-Star Game, Tuesday night's victory against the New York Rangers, and 33 other wins on the season so far.
Now, it is GM Ray Shero's turn to show why he is one of the best in the business at his job.
Shero has orchestrated blockbuster trades such as Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and a first round pick in 2008, Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi for Ryan Whitney in 2009, and James Neal and Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski in 2011. Yes, this has been Shero's time to shine as he always seems to execute trades that look lopsided in his favor.
However, this season may be his biggest challenge yet.
The Penguins currently have $1.9 million in cap space but could free up more should they decide to put Sidney Crosby on long term IR. If they go that route, the team could have $4-5 million in cap space which would, theoretically, give them enough room to get two solid players. But the problem lies within the original decision to place Crosby on LTIR. Judging by the fact the Penguins haven't placed Crosby on IR this close to the trade deadline, it seems they are anticipating his return before the regular season ends. Or, the Penguins could be stalling because they do not want to show their hand to the trade market.
That brings me into my next point: what trade market?
Of the 30 teams in the NHL, 28 are within 8 points of a playoff spot. That means teams like Buffalo, Montreal, Carolina, Anaheim and Colorado may not be so keen on trading away impact players. The Tampa Bay Lightning may be the exception as they traded Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie less than a week ago. But the Anaheim Ducks are currently soaring which pretty much slams the door on dealing Teemu Selanne.
The two teams out of the playoffs -Edmonton and Columbus- also present a challenge to the Penguins at the deadline. Columbus is looking to deal Rick Nash and Jeff Carter but both players career large contracts that the Penguins would be unable to pick up. Meanwhile, the Oilers have a young team and would be hard-pressed to deal their impact players, some of whom are still teenagers.
Ray Shero certainly has a tough task in obtaining talent this season. My guess? Any player obtained in a trade will be more of a role player than an impact superstar. Then again, we should never underestimate the ability of Ray Shero to find the right player at the right time.